“Finding Blu”

From its opening frames, Rio dazzles with color, music, and vitality very much in the vein of its titular locale.  Our reluctant hero, the domesticated macaw Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), is taken from the forest as a hatchling (the trauma of falling out of his tree causes him to not be able to fly).  Lost in Moose Lake, Minnesota or rather found there by Linda (Lesllie Mann), he is dubbed Blu (actually, Tyler Blu Gunderson).  The two become best friends.  An ornithologist named Tulio arrives on her doorstep to convince her to return Blu to Rio de Janeiro, as he may be the last male of his species, to mate with the last female of their species.  His prospective mate, the fiercely independent Jewel, sees her cage for what it is, keeping her from the life she was meant to live.  The pair get broken out of the bird sanctuary by a team of animal smugglers, including the wonderfully villainous cockatoo, Nigel (Jemaine Clements).  They manage to escape the poachers and go on the run.

“We’re chained-to-each-other birds, remember?” –Blu

There is an interesting sub-theme about the fear of the other.  Jewel often points out that “You can’t trust them” when referring to people.  Just like she denigrates Blu by referring to him as a “pet” (as opposed to how he refers to himself as a “companion”).  But birds from all sides of the tracks, be it the Domesticated Blu, the raised in the Wild Jewel, or the Urbanized  Pedro and Nico (will.i.am and Jamie Foxx) come together to rescue one another.

“The cage is great.  Love the cage.” –Blu

However the main theme revolves around the idea of always seeking freedom.  Blu suffers from a fear of freedom.  To him, the cage is comfortable and safe because that’s all he’s known.  He was known and he was loved, but he was meant to fly free.  Linda is like an overprotective parent who is learning how to let go of their child.

Freedom means challenging yourself and exploring new ideas, not sealing yourself away from “the world” and its evil influences. With such separation you lose your sense of mission. On the flip side, freedom does not mean indulge your sinful nature.  Christ is the Liberator with a mission of liberation.  In Christ we have freedom, yet we keep choking it off with our own brands of legalism.  Our cages.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

“Ah, love.  It’s such a powerful and stupid thing.” –Nigel

From the makers of Ice Age, Rio may not exactly be breaking new animated movie ground, but it does what it does very well.  With the pageantry of Carnival as its backdrop, Rio moves with a dizzying energy and a kaleidoscopic palette.  Rio has a real emotional weight, both beautiful and moving, with music that will have you shaking in your seat.  It is the inheritor to Finding Nemo, except with feathers.  Just keep flying …