Rio (2011) PICK

Source Code (2011) PICK

Spy Kids (2000) PICK

Newly available in multiple home-video editions, Rio is a charming animated tale with a rare sense of locale and culture. Director Carlos Saldanha, a native Brazilian who has directed or co-directed most of Blue Sky Studios’ productions (the Ice Age films, Robots), has called Rio his dream project — and his enthusiasm is infectious.

From the glitz of Carnaval to the grit of the card-house shantytowns to a sublime 360-degree pan around the immense figure of Christ the Redeemer, Rio has an authenticity that elevates its rather familiar fish-out-of-water tale about a sheltered pet macaw named Blu and his equally sheltered owner Linda expanding their horizons in the Marvelous City.

Parents take note: This includes the city’s sensual, risqué side, from the skimpy, gaudy Carnaval costumes and beachwear to some mildly suggestive dialogue. If you’re okay with that, the story’s positive moral and cultural values are worth the trip — particularly supplemented by the Blu-ray/DVD combo edition’s entertaining, educational extra “Explore the World of Rio” and a short featurette on “The Real Rio.” There are also a lot of music-related extras.

Also new on home video, Source Code is a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller about an Air Force vet trapped in what seems to be a strange time loop in which he keeps reliving the last eight minutes of another man’s life on a train destroyed by a terrorist bomb.

Like director Duncan Jones’ first film Moon, Source Code raises intriguing questions about human dignity in dehumanizing systems and pushes a perennial human wish — to go back and redeem the past by preventing a catastrophe from happening — into some interesting places. It’s not a perfect film, and moral issues around euthanasia are raised but not engaged. While you’re watching it, though, Jones holds the experience together with effective pacing, strategically timed revelations and a canny focus on the hero’s emotional arc.

Timed to coincide with the theatrical release of the fourth Spy Kids film, the original Spy Kids — and the two previous sequels — are now on Blu-ray with a bonus digital copy.

The original still packs an entertaining and pro-family punch. The nutty inspiration of the art design — 007 by way of Dr. Seuss — makes it fun to watch, but it’s the spy-family characters that give the film heart. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the second and third Spy Kids films. Stick with the original.


CONTENT ADVISORY: Rio: Some scary and menacing scenes; recurring mildly rude and risqué humor. Might be too much for younger kids. Source Code: Recurring deadly and bloody violence, including a recurring terrorist bombing of civilians; brief, disturbing images; some profanity, an obscenity and some crass language. Mature viewing. Spy Kids: Comic violence and mild scenes of menace and suspense. Might be too much for younger kids.