Year: 2021 | Rating:
This may be a surprise to some of you, but I was actually looking forward to Sing 2 with cautious optimism. Illumination doesn’t have the greatest track record of not making obnoxious movies that appeal to kids more than adults (in fairness, I’m not sure that can be considered a fault of an animation studio), but I rather enjoyed the first installment, so I was at the very least curious to see if director Garth Jennings could deliver the goods for a second time.
And you know what? This movie isn’t half bad. I know that doesn’t sound like the highest of praise, and for sure, it’s got its faults. It’s at least 20 minutes too long, and they tried way too hard to cram way too many songs onto the soundtrack; it feels like every other scene is a musical montage, which is definitely overdoing it a little. The beginning is rough as the story goes through a lot of setup, requiring a lot of patience from the audience in the hopes of an effective payoff in the second and third acts. It’s a bold strategy for what is ultimately still very much a “kids movie,” I’ll give it that.
But then, against all odds, the story gets rolling, and it does actually pay off, especially in the third act. The entire ending of the film built around the main performance of the fictional show being produced by cuddly koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) and company is actually really good. The mostly returning cast from the first movie once again shows off their singing chops here (Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and, especially, Taron Egerton more than hold their own with the likes of Halsey, Tori Kelly, Pharrell, and U2’s Bono), and the set pieces are actually incredibly animated. I think that Sing 2, in general, does a really good job of using the medium of animation to pull off visuals that are clearly only possible in the context of their fictional universe, but feel like they could happen in a real-world setting. I’m sure that I’m not explaining what I mean in the clearest way possible, and for that I apologize, but hopefully somebody out there knows what I mean by that.
While I do think that the first Sing film is better-paced and therefore a slightly better movie, I also appreciate the emotional themes that Sing 2 went for that I’ve never really seen from Illumination before now. Bono’s character’s arc is a little bumpy in its setup, but the payoff during the aforementioned performance of the third act is executed quite well, touching on themes of grief and acceptance in a very kid-friendly way that nonetheless also rings with truth and sincerity. I also enjoyed how the film kinda plays as a “exposé” of the music and entertainment businesses, with all of their backdoor deals, nepotism and other unpleasantries. I know that the “pitfalls of capitalism” is becoming a bit of a trope in films lately, but I think that it’s used pretty well here.
Overall, I definitely think that there’s a bit (okay, a lot) of bloat that could have been cut from the first half of this film, but the second half — the third act, in particular — is strong enough to make up for that. Illumination may not be the best Hollywood animation studio currently making films (in fact, they’re pretty close to the worst), but they’ve got something decent going with the Sing franchise, and I hope they keep it up.
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.
Director: Garth Jennings
Starring: Matthew McConaughey. Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Bobby Cannavale