Who is ready for an animated musical encore from Illumination? When the trailer for Sing came out years ago, it grabbed people’s attention. The love for musical talent shows like American Idol shined through because it was just a bunch of animals doing their best to sing popular songs. I remember spending weeks watching all the worst auditions every season on the show. It was the best part! Illumination knows who to bring a fun concept to life. But what was lacking was the overall story. But could director Garth Jennings do it again?
What does Sing 2 bring to the table this time around? Instead of a singing competition, Dr. Moon (Matthew McConaughey) leads his band of misfit performers to the big city to put on a crazy science fiction jukebox musical. Who would bankroll such an idea? An evil and dangerous mob boss voiced by Italian actor Bobby Cannavale…because of course! But they had to include his daughter Porsha…because of nepotism! But of course, there must be conflict and subplots for everyone. Like the first film, Sing 2 tries to balance all of our favorite characters (minus one from the original) and add even more. The biggest addition is the mysterious lion voiced by U2 front man, Bono. In general, most of the stories work but not all of them are as interesting.
But what are the real standouts? The heart of the film is obviously the attempt to rope Bono’s character into the fold. Bono does a nice job, but it is Scarlett Johansson who shines as Ash, who wants to meet the hero and connect with him. Meena (Tori Kelly) gets a nice little romance on her end which is sweet. Johnny was one of the biggest highlights from Sing and now gets to continue to shine with a full-fledged role with a new dance partner and conflict with a cruel dance instructor. But not all these stories get really fleshed out or fully click. Buster is saddled with dealing with our main antagonist in this sequel and honestly it gets WAY to dark (there is attempted murder multiple times). Reese Witherspoon’s Rosita might be vying for the lead in their show, but she is a bit overshadowed in the film.
But what is the most entertaining aspect of the film? The better part of half the movie focuses on their big show. I honestly would have wanted to see this show…if it were really. Yes, it leans on the jukebox musical approach (with a nice helping of established songs) but they are performed so well by this cast. Halsey is a highlight as Porsha when she gets to perform and come into her own. Kelly shines as Meena with the duets with Pharrell Williams no less. The cherry on top is witnessing an animated duet between Scar Jo and ono. Who would have ever thought that was going to be a thing?
Was this franchise worth continuing for Illumination? Jennings keeps finding just enough to make something out of the basic concepts he seems to be perfect with. The characters each get a time to shine while advancing their characters. The jukebox music is a blast to take in (especially during their big show at the end. Does it play out how you would expect? Absolutely. But this is still a fun time for the whole family.