Frantic, broad, and terrified of losing its young audience’s attention for even, like, one single picosecond, Rio 2 feels like biting down on a golf-ball-size bolus of Skittles while a youth counselor sitting backward in a chair fist-bumps you and shouts, “The environment is cool, brah!” Visually, it’s a shrapnel grenade packed with crayons exploding directly into your eyeballs.
Having settled down with his mate, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), to raise three hatchlings in a Rio de Janeiro sanctuary, blue macaw Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) learns from the T.V. that biologists have discovered a flock of his own, endangered species in a remote region of the Amazon. The family migrates to the jungle, where Jewel finds her father, Eduardo (Andy Garcia), a Great Santini figure who can’t relate to Blu’s domesticated attachment to the GPS he keeps in his fanny pack. Mean parrot Nigel (Jemaine Clement), having been resurrected between films via some improbably human emergency medical intervention, pursues the family, bent on revenge. Rio 2 wants to be a musical, but instead of timing songs to, say, the emotional peaks of the characters, director Carlos Saldanha opts for high-intensity intervals of singing every four minutes.
Whenever the writers can’t come up with a deafening enough punch line, they just kill something as a gag — piranhas leap out of the river and munch a chorus line of capybaras to their bones; a jaguar leaps out of the foliage and swallows a “Memories”-singing arboreal ingénue. Oh, and there’s some stuff about loggers cutting down the jungle.