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Sunday, December 26, 2021

Sing 2


I have a feeling audience's reactions to Sing 2 will be exactly the same as their thoughts on the 2016 surprise hit animated film.  The original was thin on plot and originality, but had a lot of heart, a large likeable cast, and a massive collection of hit songs spanning multiple decades and genre.  The sequel does little to mix up that winning formula, and even if the characters don't seem to take center stage as much as before, the film has charm to spare.

Energetic koala theater producer Buster Moon (once again voiced by an unrecognizable Matthew McConaughey) has found great success with his productions headed by his talented cast of animals in his little town, but he knows that he is destined for bigger things.  He makes the risky decision to head to the big city of Redshore (a Vegas-inspired metropolis) in the hope of impressing the tough-as-nails media mogul, Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale), and bringing his theatrical magic to a larger audience.  The only way he can get Jimmy's interest is with the promise that he will track down reclusive rock star Clay Calloway (voice by Bono), who has not performed or been seen in public since the death of his wife.  It is now up to rock star porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to try to reach him.

As the search for Clay and preparations for Buster's latest musical extravaganza gets under way, a variety of subplots concerning his cast begin to form.  Rosita the Pig (Reese Witherspoon) has the lead role for the first time, but finds she is afraid of heights during her key musical number, and is in danger of being replaced by Jimmy's talented yet ditzy teenage daughter, Porsha (recording artist Halsey).  Golden-voiced gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) is having trouble learning to dance, thanks to a strict teacher, and learns guidance from a local street performer (Letitia Wright).  And gentle teenage elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) is having trouble performing a romantic scene for the show, until she finds love for real with a friendly ice cream vendor (Pharrell Williams).

Sing 2 is a simple crowd pleaser that gets a lot of mileage from its cast and song selection, with over 40 songs placed within a film that runs a little under two hours.  It's gentle, inoffensive, and should delight its young audience, while keeping adults engaged.  What its slightly less successful at is juggling its multiple plots and characters.  Many of the likable cast get moments to stand out, but still seem short-changed by the crowded script.  The previous film had a strong underdog angle, with the film focusing on the various struggles the everyday characters had about reaching their dreams of fame.  This time around, the characters are already established stars, and are plugged into formulaic plots about romance and moving on.  These are still the characters we fell in love with, and the returning actors bring the same spirit, but they never seem as relatable as before, as the script isn't quite as focused on them.

Despite this, the movie stands out, thanks to its imaginative world that dreams of a human-like society occupied by animals (there are some clever ads and billboards when the cast hits the big city of Redshore).  There are also obviously a number of strong musical sequences, the most memorable being the chance to hear Johansson pair up with Bono on a cover of a U2 song.  It's obvious that returning writer-director, Garth Jennings, had no intentions of shaking up the successful formula from last time here, and even if the sequel seems a bit less character-driven than before, he manages to maintain the same energetic style, and gets a few good laughs in his script.  That's obviously what was expected of him, and he stays afloat here.


Sing 2
feels a bit workmanlike, but it still has enough charm to work.  Should there be another sequel, I hope Jennings and his crew can get a bit closer to the heart of these characters, and have them drive the plot a bit more.  Regardless, this is ideal entertainment for kids who have already had multiple viewings of Spider-Man.

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