‘Sing 2’ Review: “A Well-Stocked, Thoughtful Jukebox”
Animated musicals make me come alive. Few things bring a bigger smile to my face than whimsical animated characters bringing songs to life. When I was a child, the American Idol spoof on the Shrek 2 DVD was on a constant loop. More recently, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more memorable animated jukebox musical than 2016’s Sing. The film features a star-studded cast including Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Taron Egerton, and Tori Kelly. The original Sing film tells the story of a down-on-his-luck theater operator attempting to restore the joy in his life through music. Now, five years later, Sing 2 takes what the first outing was able to accomplish and amplifies it.
Taking place shortly after the events of the first movie, the film finds Buster Moon (McConaughey) riding the wave of momentum and success. With his loyal friends by his side, Buster’s Moon Theater is staging an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in an attempt to impress a big shot scouting agent from the film’s version of Las Vegas: Red Shore City. However, the gang fails to rise to the occasion. As a result, they need to come with more creative ways to achieve their dreams. With a bevy of wild hijinx and individual goals, the quirky group of sentient wild animals goes through even further character development during the events of Sing 2.
Upon their arrival in Red Shore City, the gang is at the mercy of a shady promoter, Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). With a promise to put on a dazzling display featuring the return of rock star legend Clay Calloway (Bono), the stage is set for things to either go completely right or tragically wrong. Somehow, along the way, the journey elicits genuine emotion and offers some cleverly hilarious moments as well.
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In addition to Cannavale and Bono, the sequel brings newcomers Halsey, Pharrell Williams, and Letitia Wright into the franchise. In their own way, each new character helps expand the Sing lore and provides inspiration and competition to a few of the established characters. For example, when Meena (Kelly) is cast in Buster’s new musical, she struggles in finding chemistry with her new scene partner Darius (Eric André). However, when she meets a friendly elephant named Alfonso (Williams), she gets the confidence to express herself.
On the other hand, Rosita (Witherspoon) is suddenly face-to-face with mortality. Her dormant fear of heights causes her to lose the lead role to the younger, albeit annoying Porsha (Halsey). While the first film sees the ragtag group of singing animals finding their spark and love for music, the second does an exquisite job of displaying the work that goes into fostering and developing that spark. Writer/director Garth Jennings finds a way to hold on to the heart that makes the first film an instant classic. Additionally, he raises the stakes a bit.
However, in the trailer, the selling point for the film was the bond forming between Clay Calloway and Ash. This dynamic is where the animated jukebox musical finds the message that carries the plot to its finale. Clay Calloway is a former rock star suffering from overwhelming grief and depression following the loss of his wife. However, when he meets a superfan, the famous lion receives a new lease on life. Second chances can come from the strangest places. Oftentimes, musicals are all about downtrodden characters slowly working their way towards glory. With Sing 2, the emotional heartbeat is the relationship between Calloway and Ash. The ability to overcome grief with a little help from one’s friends is the defining theme.
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Filled with lovely moments and dynamite musical numbers, Sing 2 is a late-in-the-year triumph. While the story is simple, the musical backing, as well as the creatively emotional beats, interweaved throughout the plot, Sing 2 is a well-stocked jukebox with a message about overcoming grief and fighting against all odds to achieve your dreams. – Christian Hubbard
Sing 2 is now playing in a theater near you!
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