By Rebecca Keegan, Los Angeles Times Animated movies are most typically set in imagined places — the fairy tale land of "Shrek," the toy box of "Toy Story." But the new animated movie "Rio" — about a rare bird's journey from his comfortable, domesticated life in Minnesota to the faraway exotic city of Rio de Janeiro — is a love letter from director Carlos Saldanha to his real Brazilian hometown as surely as "Manhattan" is Woody Allen's love letter to New York. "Rio," which stars Jesse Eisenberg as the voice of Blu, the far-from-home macaw, and Anne Hathaway as Jewel, his wild female counterpart, depicts iconic imagery from the South American city, from its twisting coastline to its multilayered shantytowns to its famed Carnival parade. Showing the distinctive city was just part of the challenge of making "Rio," said Saldanha, whose previous credits include the blockbuster "Ice Age" series. "It's easy to capture the sites of Rio," he said. "The difficult part is to capture the vibe." Photo: Pedro the cardinal, center, Rafael the toucan and Nico the canary give some tips on getting around in Rio, to macaws Blu, left, and Jewel in the movie "Rio."
Blue Sky Studios / 20th Century Fox