April 11, 2014 -- intro: "Rio 2" and "Draft Day" were both came out this week. Read on to see whether they're worth your while. For more movie reviews from ABC News, go here.
quicklist: 1title: 'Rio 2'text:
Voices by Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx
Three out of five stars
The first "Rio" movie was a colorful, uplifting, foot-tapping, heartfelt surprise hit. The 2011 release grossed just under half-a-billion dollars -- which, these days, means: SEQUEL!
Three years later, Jesse Eisenberg’s Spix’s macaw, Blu, is back, and he and fellow macaw, Jewel (Anne Hathaway) now have three kids. They believe they're the last five Spix’s macaws left on the planet. But they're wrong.
When their humans, Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro) and Linda (Leslie Mann), discover there may be more Spix’s macaws, Blu and family decide to investigate. But they'll encounter more than a few obstacles, including the killer bird Nigel (Jemaine Clement) from the original "Rio," and a developer, voiced by Miguel Ferrer, who wants to knock down the rain forest and build stuff.
Turns out the macaws that Tulio and Linda discovered are the flock to which Jewel belonged, which is led by her father. Also in that flock is Roberto (voiced by the singer Bruno Mars), a handsome and athletic macaw with whom Jewel played as a child. Roberto is the complete opposite of Blu, who quickly becomes jealous and alienated by a jungle culture he can’t relate to because he was a domesticated “pet.” That background is the very reason Jewel’s father dislikes Blu.
If all this sounds familiar, it may be because the story line is intentionally influenced by the comedy "Meet the Parents." Fox has even used the phrase “Meet the Flockers” in its marketing campaign. It's clearly an effort to pander to the adults, and it doesn’t always work.
What does work is the relationship between the dastardly Nigel and Gabi (Kristin Chenoweth), who plays an adorable, yet poisonous frog in love with Nigel. Gabi and Nigel even get their own show-stopping singing number, “Poisonous Love,” which isn’t only adorable, it leaves you wanting more. These two could be worthy of their own movie. Outside of Gabi, the new characters aren’t nearly as endearing, while returning characters Nico (Jamie Foxx), Rafael (George Lopez), Pedro (will.i.am) and Luiz (Tracy Morgan) feel underutilized here.
Despite its lackluster plot being a drag for adults, "Rio 2" does have a great message about love and acceptance, which is something most any parent will want their kids to see. Your kids also will be dancing in the aisles to the catchy, up-tempo soundtrack, all while learning about the rainforest. In other words, your children will love "Rio 2," and you won’t hate it.
quicklist: 2title: 'Draft Day'text: Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner
Four out of five stars
"Draft Day" is one of the most unusual and surprising sports movies ever made.
Yes, it’s about an underdog, but it has nothing do to with the action on a field, court or rink. Nor is it about an aging, dying or disabled athlete with something to prove. Instead, this is the story of Kevin Costner’s Sonny Weaver Jr., the fictional general manager of the real Cleveland Browns, and how he wins or loses for his struggling team off the field.
Just about the entire movie takes place on draft day. Director Ivan Reitman, along with writers Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph, do a good job explaining the NFL draft to the uninitiated without patronizing die-hard football fans. If you're one of the former, the draft is how teams build their franchises. Over a three-day period, owners add eligible college players to their teams. The worse your team's record the previous season, the better your draft pick. But draft position isn't absolute: You can trade up or down -- and therein lies the drama of "Draft Day."
When we meet Sonny, he isn’t just dealing with the pressure of draft day. His girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner), who also works for the team (their office romance is a secret), has just told him she’s pregnant. Sonny has no idea how to deal with the news, and Ali has no idea how to deal with Sonny's inability to deal with the news. Furthermore, Sonny’s legendary father, former Cleveland Browns coach Sonny Weaver Sr., died the week before. In addition to his personal issues, both the city of Cleveland and the team's owner, the flashy Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), are breathing down Sonny's neck, wanting to know what he’s going to do with their draft pick.
Anthony commands Sonny to make a splash, so when the Seattle Seahawks come calling and offer him their first pick -- the much-coveted, high-profile quarterback Bo Callahan -- Sonny gives Seattle the Browns’ first-round draft pick for the next three years in exchange.
The city of Cleveland is elated by the trade, but Sonny is having buyer’s remorse, no longer certain drafting Bo is the right thing to do. That's a sentiment shared by new Browns head coach Penn (Denis Leary), who thinks the Browns already have a good quarterback in Brian Drew (Tom Welling). Just another headache for Sonny.
Kevin Costner’s nuanced work here demands empathy. In "Draft Day," he delivers one of his more powerful and heartfelt performances, putting the movie on his shoulders like a blue-chip, number-one draft pick would carry a team to the Super Bowl, then win it in the final seconds.
Some of the exposition in "Draft Day" is a bit cringe-worthy to a football fan, as various exchanges between team execs are clearly conversations that would’ve taken place weeks before the actual draft. But this is a movie for non-football fans, as well. There's also some inconsistent characterizations and other fumbles, but they can be forgiven because the rest of "Draft Day" isn’t just entertaining for sports and movie fans alike: It’s simply thrilling and fun.