Blue Sky’s Studios’ Blue Macaws and friends from the worldwide hit “Rio” are back for a grander adventure into the Amazon in “Rio 2” where music beats faster and louder with the returning cast Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Oscar and Grammy winner Jamie Foxx, will.i.am, Jemaine Clement along new voice cast members - Oscar® nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy® winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy®/Tony winner Rita Moreno. “Rio 2” also features new Brazilian artists and original music by Janelle Monae and Wondaland.
Helmed by Carlos Saldanha, Jewel convinces Blu to check out Linda and Tulio’s discovery that there might still be other Blue Macaws in the thick forest of the Amazon after seeing a single blue feather while trekking the forest.
We then catch up with Blu, Jewel and their three kids, all of whom have settled into life in Rio. They experience the comforts and conveniences of city dwelling. Blu remains as domesticated as ever, but Jewel is concerned that the children are becoming more like humans than birds, and that they may never know how to be birds.
When Jewel decides the kids need to learn to live like real birds, she insists the family venture to the Amazon. Blu tells his buddies of his travel plans, but Nico, Pedro and Luiz warn him of the myriad dangers that could lie ahead in the wild. But the ever-positive Rafael encourages Blu, reminding him that “a happy wife means a happy life!”
Anne Hathaway explains: “Jewel grew up in the jungle and the kids are being raised in Rio, so there’s definitely more of a human influence on them. They listen to music players, eat pancakes and watch TV. Jewel is not the biggest fan of that kind of domesticity.”
Blue and Jewel’s adventurous triplets are a jungle of a character themselves – Carla, Tiago and Bia. Singer/actress/comedian Rachel Crow voices the eldest of the triplets, Carla, a spunky teen who longs to get a little space from her protective family so she can express her musical side. Like her father Blu, Carla not so keen at first to go with her family into the wild but in an instant changed her mind when she learns that her cool uncles Nico and Pedro are joining the adventure. Eventually, Carla helps her Uncles put up the most musical and vibrant carnival show in the Amazon where she has also blossomed as a musical talent. Very much her father’s daughter, Bia (voiced by “The Hunger Games’” Amandla Stenberg) is as domesticated and lives with her beak in a book and likes spouting facts and figures like Blu. But when she gets to the Amazon, she is inspired by its awe and wonder. For once, she puts down her books and experiences the colorful life around her. Tiago, the youngest and only boy of the triplets is voiced by Pierce Gagnon, is always up for adventure, especially if it involves destroying something.
Upon their arrival at the heart of the Amazon, Blu and Jewel meet the locals, including Eduardo (Andy Garcia), a larger than life patriarch with a firm set of rules, who becomes a comedic obstacle for Blu; Mimi (Rita Moreno), Eduardo’s warm and sassy sister, who likes to speak her mind, even to her overbearing brother; and Roberto (singer-songwriter-record producer Bruno Mars), a perfect specimen of a wild bird who charms everyone around him and makes Blus elf-conscious. As Blu tries to fit in, he worries he may lose Jewel and the kids to the call of the wild.
Saldanha envisioned a mini-travelogue that would get the characters from Rio to the Amazon swiftly and show his beloved Brazil in a fun way. To mark the journey, the filmmakers devised an unfolding map and pop-up map, as well as some GPS imagery, all presented in a stylized way. As the sequence progresses, the scene weaves back and forth between the real world and the paper pop-up world. Finally arriving at their destination – the largest jungle in the world – the family takes in the marvels of the Amazon: massive trees of all types, the limitless flora and fauna, and giant rivers. It is a much bigger canvas, and thus more challenging to render than building the city of Rio in the first film.“We wanted to capture the vibe of the forest and its harmony, with nature and with animals,” comments Saldanha.