Animated comedy “Rio 2” boasts an incredible line-up of voice talent, including a spectacular blend of award-winners and nominees from film, television, music and comedy. Most of the cast of the original movie have returned to lend their voices to the sequel. Several new voices have also been added, including pop sensation Bruno Mars, Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar-nominated actor Andy Garcia.
Co-written by director Carlos Saldanha and the late Don Rhymer, the sequel brings back the beloved characters from the 2011 original, from everyone’s favorite macaw couple Jewel and Blu to Luiz the slobbery bulldog and Nigel the evil cockatoo. New characters are introduced as Blu and Jewel adventure from their comfortable life in Rio de Janeiro to the wild and wonderful Amazon rainforest.
Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway Return as Blu and Jewel
Jesse Eisenberg, the Oscar-nominated star of the 2010 film “The Social Network,” reprises his role as the voice of Blu, the lovable Spix’s Macaw. Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway also returns as the voice of Jewel, Blu’s mate and now the mother of his three chicks.
Three young new stars join the cast as the voices of Blu and Jewel’s three children: Rachel Crow, Amandla Stenberg and Pierce Gagnon. Stenberg, the voice of the middle-chick, is the most recognizable of the three as she portrayed Rue, the smallest tribute from “The Hunger Games.”
Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro Also Return As Human Lovebirds Linda and Tulio
Leslie Mann and Rodrigo Santoro revisit their roles as the voices of Linda and Tulio, the human owners of Blu and Jewel. In Rio 2, Linda and Tulio have adopted Fernando. Jake T. Austin, best known for playing Selena Gomez’s brother on Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place,” returns as the voice of Fernando.
Newcomers Include Pedigreed Actors Andy Garcia and Rita Moreno
In the movie, Blue and Jewel accompany their owners, Linda and Tulio, from Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon rainforest to search for a hidden tribe of Spix’s Macaws. Along the way, they discover Jewel’s long-lost father, Eduardo. Eduardo is voiced by veteran actor Andy Garcia. Blu has an extremely difficult time winning over his father-in-law. His plight is not helped by Jewel’s Aunt Mimi, who is voiced by Oscar and Emmy winner Rita Moreno.
The Bad Guys
Jemaine Clement returns as the voice of Nigel, the scheming cockatoo. Nigel is joined by his new sidekick, Gabi the poison dart frog. Gabi is voiced by Broadway legend and Emmy-winner Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth’s amazing voice is a great addition to the film’s soundtrack. Clement and Chenoweth have two full songs to themselves, “Poisonous Love” and a hysterical rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit “I Will Survive.”
Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx and Grammy-winning rapper will.i.am reprise their hilarious roles as the voices of Nico, the yellow canary and Pedro, the rapping cardinal. Comedian George Lopez returns to his role as Rafael, the romantic toucan. “30 Rock” actor Tracy Morgan also returns as the voice of Luiz the drooling bulldog.
Well-Known Casting Additions
Four-time Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars joined the cast of “Rio 2” as the voice of Roberto, Jewel’s childhood friend. Roberto has grown into a charismatic ladies’ man whose masculine swagger threatens the more reserved Blu. Director Saldanha reportedly asked Mars to join the cast after watching his effortless turn hosting “Saturday Night Live.”
Two other recognizable voices also joined the cast. Grammy-nominated performer Janelle Monáe, in just her second voice acting part, plays a veterinarian and makes a worthy contribution to the film’s soundtrack. Monáe opens the soundtrack performing the gorgeous song “What Is Love” and then joins Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg and Jamie Foxx in a reprise of the song to close the album. “Today” co-host Natalie Morales makes a cameo as a news anchor.
The voice talent truly brings this animated musical comedy to life. Eisenberg and Hathaway are both charming and lovable as Blu and Jewel. Andy Garcia’s twitchy father and Mars’ singing Romeo add hilarious new dimensions to the plot. With such incredible voice talent, the soundtrack, released March 25, is excellent as well. This is especially true due to the inclusion of Kristin Chenoweth , Bruno Mars and Janelle Monáe.
When “Rio 2” opens in theaters across the United States on April 11, fans of the 2011 “Rio” will not be disappointed. The movie captures all the humor and excitement of the original while adding some new twists and turns that are certain to leave viewers on the edge of their seats.