Sing 2 is much more the same

Opera song


Universal

lighting To sing (2016) was a jukebox musical that felt both stripped down and overloaded. It was stripped down in the sense that it stripped a show’s musical formula down to its basics. It was also overloaded in the sense that there were so many characters singing so many songs that there was hardly a moment to get to know or care about one of the brave performers. Sing 2 is not doing much better.

This sequel looks more like the same with little improvement. There’s a bigger goal for showrunner Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) as he tries to sell a bigger show to a bigger venue now that his theater is safe and sound. There is enough music in the soundtrack to make you think you’ve left your radio or Spotify on a pop station if you’re watching the movie in the background. There are even more characters added to the mix, inflating the cast to such a set that we probably can’t explore any of their personalities.

It’s such a shame considering that there are some interesting stories that end up being reduced to watered down mini-arcs. Buster’s desire to elevate himself in the entertainment world is an insecurity I wish I had explored beyond him in trying to defeat avid and violent media mogul Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). At the same time, Buster’s show calls for the talents of retired rock lion Clay Calloway (Bono), who is overcome with grief over the loss of his wife. That would be enough of a story, but wait! There is more!

Brave slut Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) must overcome her fear of heights if she hopes to get the lead role in Buster’s sci-fi rock opera. Bullied gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) isn’t sure he can learn an elaborate fight choreography in a timely manner with a strict instructor. Shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) feels uncomfortable singing for a love scene and needs to find a special guy to be her muse. Buster also has to deal with Jimmy’s spoiled daughter, Porsha (Halsey), who wants the lead role despite being a terrible actress (but, of course, a strong singer). There’s hardly any bow for pig dancer Gunter (Nick Kroll), porcupine guitarist Ash (Scarlett Johansson), or elderly iguana assistant Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings).

The only part of the movie that made me laugh was a scene of Crawly driving fast while charmingly singing System of a Down. It’s a rare moment of fun juxtaposition and going against expectations – all of the other songs feel up to the course. What a surprise to Taron Egerton working his pipes as he proved it in the first film and his amazing performance in the Elton John biopic Rocket man? Or to Bono singing a U2 song? All of these numbers, lavish as they are, are so predictable in their pop.

The best we can say Sing 2 is that the animation is more grandiose than before. The backdrops for rock opera, which is an amazing idea, are quite impressive. Everything from working the wire of spaceships to eerie costumes to the creative use of lighting via hundreds of tiny creatures is pretty smart. That’s enough to make you want to see more of this musical rather than the less interesting behind-the-scenes conflict. Perhaps this is because it’s a simpler story of finding a lost person and exploring emotionally diverse planets. Squint and you could easily see it as a Green Lantern musical.

The jukebox soundtrack is not only standard, but also tiring. Song after song strikes the viewer, either sung by the characters or simply placed in the background. Rarely do they carry so much weight, placed more for notoriety than for clever staging. One streak had to go through about six different pop songs in the span of a minute, which further adds to the exhaustion. Probably the best use of the soundtrack is Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” for the opening number one. Alice in Wonderland musical. But like everything in this picture, it ends before it’s ever great.

Sing 2 does little with its cover and gives the impression that the same tune is played louder and longer. Humor rarely lands with ingenuity, and the musical format does little to impress. While the script sets simple goals for the characters so that there isn’t as much potential wasted, there are just too many of them, and the arcs are further reduced by the predominance of lyrics over dialogue. The film’s inspiring slogan is that there’s nowhere to go but to the top when you’ve already hit rock bottom. Corn Sing 2 going nowhere.