REVIEW: Sing 2 [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: PG | Runtime: 112 minutes
    Release Date: December 22nd, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: Illumination Entertainment / Universal Pictures
    Director(s): Garth Jennings
    Writer(s): Garth Jennings

I love sky-fi!

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) and his ragtag bunch of heart-of-gold singers have their sights on leaving their small-town theater for the bright lights of Redshore City if talent scout Suki (Chelsea Peretti) thinks they have what it takes. Their rendition of Alice in Wonderland with shy Meena (Tori Kelly) belting out the lead part opposite Johnny’s (Taron Egerton) Mad Hatter, Rosita’s (Reese Witherspoon) Cheshire Cat, and Gunter’s (Nick Kroll) Caterpillar has sold out every night, so their hopes are as high as poor Miss Crawley (Garth Jennings) on the catwalk spying to see whether their esteemed guest is having a good time. Everyone who saw the first Sing, however, should know Buster doesn’t get motivated unless he has something to prove. Suki’s rejection does exactly that.

He needs a push from his benefactor Nana (Jennifer Saunders) too—even if it’s pretty much the same mantra he gave Meena five years ago. She tells him to never back down knowing Buster will take that encouragement and hatch whatever plan necessary to give his troupe a chance. So, he gathers them together, scoops up Ash (Scarlett Johansson), and uses the lengthy bus ride to this world’s Las Vegas equivalent to rehearse how they’ll present the show to cutthroat and presumedly mobbed-up venue owner Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). A couple white lies later and he’s actually in business. He’ll just need to write a brand new exorbitantly expensive extravaganza while also coaxing noted reclusive rockstar Clay Calloway (Bono) from a decade-long self-exile. How hard could it be?

Jennings’ Sing 2 is thus what you’d expect from a sequel: bigger. It’s still about one man’s pride discovering greater purpose (and success) through the realization that there’s more important things in this world, but it’s on a scale with much greater stakes than financial ruin. Mr. Crystal does not mince words when it comes to saying he’ll drop Moon off the roof if he dares embarrass him. Buster attempts to mitigate that aggression by adding the gangster’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) to the show, but her singing talents do not outweigh her acting liability. Will it matter? Not if he and Gunter can’t finish the ending so construction can begin (poor Mason) or if Ash (after a hilariously ill-fated sequence with Miss Crawly) can’t cajole Calloway from solitude.

Like its predecessor, Moon isn’t the only one facing challenges here. Johnny must conquer his nemesis in the form of renowned choreographer Klaus Kickenklober (Adam Buxton) to remember that this whole song-and-dance thing is supposed to be fun (with the help of Letitia Wright‘s Nooshy). Rosita is battling a fear of heights (and, by extension, stage fright) when the pressure of being the star leads her to getting demoted. And Meena struggles with her lack of confidence again—this time where intimacy is concerned since her role has a romantic interlude with pompous showboat Darius (Eric André). Maybe the appearance of a cute ice cream truck-owning elephant (Pharrell Williams‘ Alfonso) can help her escape her shell. Or maybe they’ll all discover they weren’t ready for the “big time.”

Except, what kind of inspirational kid’s movie would this be if that were the takeaway? Each one of them will eventually get over their proverbial humps. It’s simply a matter of how far down they must go before they can. Jennings pulls no punches with Mr. Crystal as far as the lengths he’ll go to get his way (his villainy is much more vicious than the mobsters after Mike in Sing, a character who does not make an appearance or warrant a mention after his narrow escape). Moon will see his life flash before his eyes and even Johnny will get a bit beat up in the process of finding his balance with dance. You almost feel sorry for Calloway since there’s little room for his newcomer’s pain.

I think Jennings and company do the best they can with it, though, since there was a more one-to-one dynamic with everyone’s problems in the first film. The way they handle Clay’s grief (he hasn’t been in public since his wife died fifteen years prior) is empathetic and his mischievous side where it comes to maintaining his privacy enjoyably gruff. Not only does Bono voice the character, but he also lends a couple U2 songs to the production to get Crystal’s mouth-watering for a comeback. And since Ash is a Calloway super fan, she’s able to be the one to remind him of his music’s power and, by extension, the power of his muse to reach the world in such a poignant and crucial way despite her passing.

While Sing 2 admirably holds up its dramatic end, however, the real draw is its comedy and music. I laughed out loud a couple times (how can you not with Miss Crawly singing along to System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!”) and got swept away with the needle drops perfectly attuned to the emotional beat needed. Nick Offerman‘s Norman is a nice addition as the pressed-upon assistant to Mr. Crystal, Halsey’s Porsha is a wonderfully entertaining spoiled yet-not-so-bratty brat, and the sheer chaos that occurs when the animal nature of these characters is unleashed (Rosita’s rambunctious piglets are only rivaled by the creepy custodial meerkats) allows for a wild ride that does well to ensure our attention is kept throughout. Fans of the original should rejoice.

[1] Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures Caption (from left) Klaus Kickenklober (Adam Buxton, third from left), Johnny (Taron Egerton), Meena (Tori Kelly), Nooshy (Letitia Wright), Clay Calloway (Bono), Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), Porsha Crystal (Halsey), Darius (Eric André), Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Gunter (Nick Kroll) in Illumination’s Sing 2, written and directed by Garth Jennings. Copyright © 2021 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures Caption (from left) Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings, second from left, with frog), Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, center) and Gunter (Nick Kroll, right), in Illumination’s Sing 2, written and directed by Garth Jennings. Copyright © 2021 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.
[3] Photo Credit: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures Caption Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale, center) in Illumination’s Sing 2, written and directed by Garth Jennings. Copyright © 2021 UNIVERSAL STUDIOS. All Rights Reserved.

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