The Band of Misfits Take the Road

Garth Jennings’ “Sing 2” buries once loveable characters under the perils of cash grab clichés


Photo by Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures.

Bridget Frawley, Coverage Editor

The gang of anthropomorphic animals are back, but this time, they are ditching the quaint, small-town, red-velvet seat Moon Theater for an entertainment tycoon in the heart of Redshore City, a spin on what us humans call Las Vegas. 

Movie-goers are thrusted back into the animal world in Garth Jennings’ “Sing 2,” the sequel to the 2016 “Sing.” The original made quite the impact at the box office, grossing $634.2 million in worldwide sales.

 “Sing 2” stars the returning cast of animal misfits including Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), punk rocker porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johanson), unconfident gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), belting and dancing pigs Rosita and Gunter (Reese Witherspoon and Nick Kroll), and elephant Meena (Tori Kelly).

The film opens with the familiar crew singing Prince’s “Let’s Get Crazy” while recreating scenes from Alice in Wonderland. Their notes fill the theater as characters run across the screen flaunting eccentric outfits and vibrant stage sets. However, when the canine talent scout Suki (Chelsea Peretti) leaves during the middle of the show and tells Moon that the performance would not cut it in the industry, Moon buys bus tickets for the gang, and they set out on a roadtrip to Redshore City. 

The montage of the cast rehearsing in the back of the bus while driving through canyons and open fields reminded me of the heart and authenticity I felt during “Sing.” 

However, this nostalgia was nullified when the neon, commercialized utopia of Redshore City towered over the small bus and the crew. 

Their mission: prove the talent scout wrong and be selected by big, bad wolf Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Canavale), head of entertainment conglomerate Crystal Entertainment, to create a lavish musical display for his next entertainment prospect. 

When their small-town charm does not cut it for Crystal, Gunter’s nonsensical idea of putting on a space-themed musical called “Out of this World” peaked Crystal’s interest. To seal the deal, Moon lied by saying he was in contact with Clay Calloway (Bono), a lion singer who is now not only famous for his music but for being a recluse following the passing of his wife. This plot point left me with a feeling of deja vu; it is an obvious repetition of “Sing,” as this isn’t the first time Moon had used dishonesty as a shortcut for selfish results. Repeating storylines has become the common thread between “Sing” and “Sing 2”, rather than a focus on the characters and plot. 

As Moon and the gang work to execute this sci-fi musical, the characters diverge on their own separate paths and, consequently, separate plot points causing a muddled delusion of storylines that are too narrow to take shape. 

These differing actions welcome in new cast members including Porsche (Halsey), Crystal’s teen daughter and a threat to Rosita’s leading role; Nooshy (Letita Wright), an Iberian lynx street dancer who adopts the role as Johnny’s dance instructor and confidence builder; and Darius (Eric André), a self-absorbed yak who Meena has to develop chemistry with for a romance scene. In short, “Sing 2” quickly divulges into an overwhelming and jumbled cast.

With both returning and added characters, this film is the epitome of the classic adage “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The competing personalities and plot points serve more as a way to fill the film with a celebrity cast instead of adding depth. 

“Sing 2” also acts as a jukebox, mindlessly puppeting characters to sing songs so the producers, Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, can say they are with the times. No, you are not with the times just because you include Billie Eilish and Coldplay songs into your movie’s disjointed musical roster. I still listen to some of the covers from “Sing” with no shame, especially Johnny’s performance of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.” The songs from “Sing” are so memorable because their lyrics relate to the arcs of the characters by complimenting their situations and personalities with purposeful musical numbers. “Sing” was enveloped in genuinity and care, while “Sing 2” feels like a playlist full of skips. 

  Despite the numerous venturing storylines, there are ones that formed compelling and emotional scenes. In one scene, Ash and Moon visited Calloway at his secluded lake-side home, only to be turned away. Instead of losing hope, Ash persevered, attempting to help Calloway heal from his emotional damage. Both Calloway and Ash performed Bono’s “Your Song Saved My Life” during the final segment of the film bringing that storyline to an effective close, something that could be attributed to the authenticity behind each lyric. 

Although I would not put “Sing 2” above its predecessor, when the crew put on their sci-fi musical for an adoring crowd, the vivid animation and color popped off the screen, making for dynamic action scenes. This closing sequence brought many of the storylines full circle, making for a heartwarming reunion that brought back the nostalgia I felt earlier in the film. If you are looking for a humorous, mindless film, “Sing 2” is perfect for a Friday night. The hollow plot can be forgiven with extra popcorn. 

“Sing 2” can essentially be summed up with the phrase “bigger isn’t always better.” In fact, I would take the small-town Moon theater over Crystal Entertainment any day.