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'Sing 2' Review: A harmless and forgettable sequel

'Sing 2,' the Illumination jukebox musical, returns but with very little creative life present.

The cast of 'Sing 2'.
(Image: © Universal Pictures)

Our Verdict

'Sing 2' is harmless enough, but that also makes it extraordinarily easy to forget as soon as the end credits roll.

For

  • - The vast array of songs are as catchy as usual
  • - With such a massive ensemble, a few of the performers are more enjoyable to listen to than others
  • - There are worse ways to spend your holiday

Against

  • - This film spends more time than it should on overstuffed subplots than on cover songs
  • - The characters and their problems are mostly uninspired clichés
  • - The new threat is pretty dull and lifeless

Sing 2 is the peak of harmless, forgettable and ultimately dull modern animated films. Just like its 2016 predecessor, Sing 2 boasts a massive ensemble of A-list actors. Just like its predecessor, Sing 2 is full of modern pop songs being performed by anthropomorphized animals. And just like its predecessor, Sing 2 relies on overused clichés and storytelling tropes, all in service of a story that isn’t even ambitious enough to be interesting. The film exists, it’s there and it will evaporate from your mind as soon as it’s over.

After koala impresario Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) and his troupe of ragtag animal singers triumphed at the end of Sing, they’ve been putting on various shows with shoestring stories that enable them to perform songs to adoring audiences. But Buster has his sights set on a bigger goal: moving the show to the Vegas-like Redshore City, in spite of being told by a talent scout that he and his singers — gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) — aren’t good enough to hack it in the big city. Buster takes it upon himself to take his singers to Redshore City in the hopes of wooing a wolfish business exec (Bobby Cannavale), who’s only interested in a baffling outer-space musical idea whose central star is a fabled ex-rock 'n' roll star (Bono of U2) who hasn’t performed in years.

Sing 2, once again written and directed by Garth Jennings, simultaneously has too little and too much going on. Each of the major characters returning from the original — sorry to any fans of Seth MacFarlane’s crooning mouse, who does not show up again — gets their own story, along with the general arc of whether or not Buster and company can coerce aforementioned retired rocker Clay Calloway out of retirement. Even if there was time within the film’s 112-minute length to give each of these subplots enough room to breathe, neither the characters nor the subplots are terribly interesting. Plus, many of them serve to keep the characters away from the whole idea of the title … i.e., to sing.

It’s also a bit more challenging with Sing 2 than it was with Sing to figure out who this movie is actually for. Arriving from Illumination Entertainment (the purveyors of The Minions, among others), Sing 2 is here for the holiday-movie crowds, but the major plot revolves around exactly how much the audience cares about the music of the band U2. Bono is the only member of U2 to appear in the film, and although his character isn’t actually Bono, all of the songs Clay Calloway is known for are such numbers as “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and “Stuck in a Moment That You Can’t Get Out Of,” so … you know, U2 songs. And although it’s perfectly good rock 'n' roll music, U2 songs being the major point on which a family film hinges is … odd, to say the least.

The outer-space musical that gets performed through the final third of Sing 2 is equally odd, without being terribly entertaining. Whatever flaws Sing had, it was much more straightforward about telling a story in which a motley crew of characters got together to put on a show that was simply lots of different songs. But from the start, Sing 2 feels the need to put a story-within-the-story around those songs. One example sees Meena portraying Alice in a riff on Alice in Wonderland and then by the end of the film she’s portraying a goddess being romanced — in her head — by an ice cream vendor elephant voiced by Pharrell Williams (one of many descriptive sentences regarding the events of this film that manage to be true, baffling and head-scratching at the same time).

Characters from 'Sing 2'

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

The voice cast is, as was the case originally, serviceable without being phenomenal. Bono’s not remotely as memorable when speaking as he is when singing, but it’s not as if the cast around him does a whole lot better. The only notable cast member is Halsey, playing Cannavale’s character’s daughter. The daughter briefly winding up as the lead in the outer-space musical feels like a modern riff on Lina Lamont from Singin’ in the Rain, as convinced of her own talent as she’s lacking in it. Halsey being the best performer in the movie is not a huge point in its favor since the cast features Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson.

Sing 2 is Illumination’s attempt to create another franchise in the mold of Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets. But as that latter title led to a sequel mostly known for having to replace its lead actor, Sing 2 seems like the kind of movie that might just as well not even exist. It’s not bad, nor is it good. Sing 2 is so dull that it merely exists and not much else.

Sing 2 is releasing in movie theaters on Dec. 22 in the U.S., Jan. 28. 2022, in the U.K.