CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Animated, Colorful ‘Rio’ Blends Into Mediocre Blur
CHICAGO – “Rio” is a film that nearly defies critical review. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it and I can virtually guarantee you that the little ones in your family will be captivated by the talking, dancing birds with the colorful plumage. But it’s also a film that’s strikingly unmemorable. The characters, the jokes, and even the striking visuals – they all dissipate from the memory like a piece of candy that seems tasty in the moment but ultimately isn’t very filling. “Rio” isn’t a bad movie but with great family entertainment options out there, just being “not bad” isn’t good enough.
There’s something peculiar about setting a family film in the crime-ridden streets of Brazil that centers around illegal animal smuggling and the sexually-charged world of Carnival. Clearly, Blue Sky Studios (the team behind the “Ice Age” movies) were merely looking for as colorful a setting as possible but anyone who knows the real-life story of Brazil (or has seen “City of God”) may think that this was an unusual subject matter. I can imagine naïve families being forced to answer difficult questions about why they can’t buy nearly-extinct birds like the two at the center of their favorite film or why the next family vacation probably shouldn’t be to Rio de Janeiro.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Rio” in our reviews section.|
Much to the confusion of the rugrat behind me at the family screening of the film, there actually is no character in the movie named “Rio.” The title character is not-so-cleverly named Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), a rare blue macaw who mistakenly ends up in Minnesota instead of in the jungles of Brazil where he was born. As Blu is domesticated and raised by bookstore owner Linda (Leslie Mann), he learns how to fist bump and open the lock on his cage but he never learns how to fly. Naturally, “Rio” will be a story about an awkward bird who learns to find his wings.
Photo credit: Fox