Macaw learns to take to the sky

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 March, 2011, 12:00am

The 3-D animated comedy adventure, Rio, marks Brazilian director Carlos Saldanha's love affair with his home city, Rio de Janeiro. He came up with the idea for Rio while working on Ice Age 3, which was released in 2009.

'I spent years working on the Ice Age films and had a great time,' says Saldanha. 'Rio is an even more personal journey for me.'

Endangered macaw Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) lives a comfortable life in rural Minnesota, with owner Linda (Leslie Mann).

Blu, pictured with Linda, is not a typical bird - he brushes his teeth each morning, makes coffee and serves as Linda's alarm clock.

However, he cannot fly. 'He's very smart, reads everything and is very analytical. But none of that helps him fly,' Eisenberg says.

One day, Blu makes a startling discovery: he is the only male macaw left on earth. The only remaining female, Jewel (Anne Hathaway), lives in Rio.

Blu decides to travel to Rio to find Jewel. Soon the pair is kidnapped by a group of smugglers, headed by a cockatoo, Nigel (Jemaine Clement). But a number of city birds - Rafael, a toucan (George Lopez), Nico, a canary (Jamie Foxx), and Pedro, a cardinal ( - come to their rescue. With the help of his new friends, Blu hopes to unlock the secret that will finally allow him to take to the skies.

'Rafael tells Blu that flying comes from the rhythm of the heart,' says Lopez. 'Blu must connect his heart to his mind, and only then will he truly soar and discover the hero inside.'

Rio opens on April 7