Synopsis: Buster Moon and his friends must persuade reclusive rock star Clay Calloway to join them for the opening of a new show.
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Bobby Cannavale, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Halsey, Letitia Wright, Bono, Jennifer Saunders, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman
Director: Garth Jennings
Running Length: 109 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: As animated films have developed into more sophisticated works over the last two decades, they’ve been praised for their efforts to include their adult audiences in on the fun just as much as their target audience. The feeling from the studios seemed to be, “why not engage the grown-ups taking these kids to our movie at the same time. It will likely attract more ticket-buyers who won’t mind taking their small ones to a particular title instead of the more mature content they might drag them to instead.” (Truly, anything to keep an adult from bringing anyone under 14 into an R-Rated movie is absolutely fine by me!) This attitude toward inclusion of all ages has led to a boon in business and writing that is more finely tuned, something I appreciated.
Lately, however, I’ve noticed that unspoken truce between studios and adults has waned more than a little bit and a number of animated films have become little more than ninety-minute noise machines, swirls of color that pass by without leaving any lasting impression on the viewer. At least the reviewer that has a driver’s license, votes, and pays taxes. I know I’m not the target audience for a movie like Sing 2 so ultimately all that matters is what a youngster comes out of the film feeling. In that light, take my review as thoughts for the adults that may be considering this title over another to watch with their kids or even a solo trip based on their film preferences….because if you ask a child what they think about Sing 2 after all 112 minutes are up (yes, nearly two hours long), they’ll give it a guaranteed thumbs up.
It’s been a minute since Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey, Serenity) rebuilt his decaying theater, saved by a kindly patron (Jennifer Saunders, Isn’t It Romantic) who witnessed the talent from a motley crew of animals with various hang-ups who participated in a singing competition. Still selling out crowds, Moon wants to take the show to the next level, but a visit from a talent agent speaking on behalf of tycoon Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale, Annie) tells them they aren’t up to snuff. Undeterred, Moon gathers his top talent (including Reese Witherspoon, Mud, as a mother pig with confidence issues) and heads to meet Crystal in person and in the process winds up pitching an over the top show starring a reclusive singer (Bono) without having the faintest idea of how to pull it all off.
It’s simple to see how writer/director Garth Jennings plans to connect the dots from the start, so the best you can do is wait to see which songs Jennings chooses to use. As in the first one, the voices on display from the cast are surprisingly strong from actors that aren’t (or weren’t at the time of the original) known for their singing. Taron Egerton (Rocketman) performs a powerhouse version of Coldplays “A Sky Full of Stars” while Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow) makes a loud entrance with “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. Bono’s presence means a good supply of U2 songs are touched on and the band contributes an original song that isn’t half bad. The bummer is that so many of these singing moments are brief snippets of songs. Coming out so soon after West Side Story and tick, tick…BOOM! when we basked in the glow of full-scale musical numbers, this feels like a Cliff Notes version of what a musical should be.
I imagine the first film is one a number of parents will have on as background noise to keep their kids occupied while they wrap their presents, and it might be wise to wait until Sing 2 is available next Christmas to do the same. It’s not worth the time (or cash) to travel to the theater for that family event, not when there are other titles with better lessons out there (Encanto springs quickly to mind, available soon on Disney+) hitting stronger notes.