Review: 'Sing 2'
Sing 2 opens with the cast and crew of Moon’s Theater putting on a pop-musical stage adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Alice is played by the elephant Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), the Mad Hatter is played by the gorilla Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), and the Cheshire Cat is played by a pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), which seems like a bit of miscasting to me. This performance is particularly important, because in the audience is a talent scout, a saluki dog named Suki (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) who could get them an audition to perform at even bigger venues.
Anyway, she leaves about halfway through the first act.
The theater’s owner and director, the koala Mr. Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), tries to stop her, asking her what she thought of the show. She replies that it’s fine, really good local children’s theater production, but just not what they’re looking for. When Moon implores her to tell him, really honestly, what she thinks, Suki sighs and asks him if he really wants to know.
Because the honest truth, she says, is they’re just not good enough.
The bad reaction from the talent scout sets the plot in motion, as Moon decides that his troupe is good enough, so they all travel to the talking animal world’s equivalent of Las Vegas and finagle an audition with Suki’s boss, the wolf Mr. Crystal (voiced by Bobby Cannavale). They’re rejected, once again, until the pig Gunther (voiced by Nick Kroll) mentions an idea he had for a sort of rock space opera featuring Clay Calloway, a rock star lion who no longer performs (voiced by U2’s Bono). Despite the fact that the pig was basically just spitballing, Moon convinces Crystal this is totally a real thing, and they do in fact have Calloway ready to make a return to performing.
The movie features quite a few characters, but they somehow all get something to do. Gunther and Miss Crawley (Moon's lizard assistant voiced by director Garth Jennings) are mostly just comic relief, but they still have functions within the production. Johnny struggles with learning his dance battle choreography, wallflower Meena struggles with the idea of performing a stage kiss, rocker Ash the porcupine (voiced by Scarlett Johanssen) becomes most in charge of convincing Calloway to leave his retirement, and Rosita finds herself unable to perform a role that requires a jump from great heights. That’s the returning cast from the first movie, with the exception of a mouse played by Seth MacFarlane, who was last seen in the first movie being unaware of a bear sneaking up on him with murderous intent, so I’m just assuming he died horribly offscreen between movies.
The new characters are a breakdancing street busker lynx named Nooshy (voiced by Letitia Wright) who Johnny recruits to better teach him how to dance, and Crystal’s spoiled, manipulative daughter Porsha (voiced by Halsey), who takes advantage of Rosita’s vertigo to take her role. Porsha’s actually a triple threat, being able to sing, dance and possess a character design that easily makes her the franchise’s most popular character on e621. Not the traditional triple threat, however, as it turns out she can’t act. Unfortunately, being daddy’s little girl, firing her or even moving her to a more appropriate role is fraught with danger.
And this is literal danger, as Crystal’s threat to throw Moon off a high balcony if things go bad turns out to be not a metaphor at all. The stakes are a bit high for what is otherwise mostly just an excuse to sing some pop songs. Porsche’s arc is also a bit sloppy. It seems to be her getting out from under the thumb of her cruel father was the idea, but she was never really under it to begin with. Her decision to join the troupe at the end is played as sticking it to her dad, but in reality, it’s a character who does what she wants in spite of other people’s feelings on the matter doing what she wants in spite of another person’s feelings on the matter. That character design, though.
Ultimately, both the movie and the show within a show they put on are just excuses to sing pop songs. Gunther’s play is just about devoid of plot or character, and relies entirely on big, expensive set pieces and a surprise celebrity guest appearance for its entertainment value. In fact, the whole thing is more than a little tacky. This is Moon and company’s dream? Not make it big in their world’s equivalent of Broadway or even Hollywood, but Las Vegas? And Moon is literally willing to risk his life for this?
But, it all comes down to timing, doesn’t it? I went on at length in my review of the original Sing that a celebration of bubblegum pop didn’t feel right a half decade ago. Both movies are perfectly adequate kid’s animated movies, and that’s okay. I mean, the plot of the movie wouldn’t exist if Moon thought this way, but there’s something to be said for knowing what you’re good at and being happy at being that. Everybody in the audiences, real and imaginary, seemed to be having a good time, so what are we all complaining about? But the movie insists that it can and should go to the next level.
If you want my honest opinion on that, however, Sing 2 still just isn’t good enough.