Sing 2 – Review


“SING 2”

Sing 2 is the latest sequel to one of Illumination’s productions. When I reviewed ‘Sing’ I never left that film thinking ‘that needs a sequel’. I know a lot of animated films are getting them now but Sing really felt like a one-and-done story. The cast list alone was a big source of the budget last time, and let’s be honest, the amount that they must have to pay to record companies to get licence to use songs would be a big drain on the budget as well. These are obviously massive productions!

There’s a big reason why you often don’t see a lot of copyrighted music in movies, they will really eat into a lot of your budget. And if the films are actually about the artist, they can affect the writing of the film as well. If you’d like a good example of this, I’d recommend watching the YouTube video ‘The Curse of the Rock Biopic’ by Mitch Benn, which he created after seeing Bohemian Rhapsody.

Sing 2 does have a large portion of the original team back together; it’s once again written and directed by Garth Jennings and, with a few exceptions, most of the cast are back. The most notable absences being Seth Macfarlane and John C. Reilly.

The plotline is a bit all over the place this time. It’s basically about Buster Moon, voiced once again by Matthew McConaughey, taking his group of singers to put on a production in a major theatre in this world’s equivalent of Las Vegas for record and show producer Mister Crystal, voiced by Bobby Cannavale. They basically have to lie their way through a sci-fi musical that was thought up by Gunther (Nick Kroll) but seal the deal by claiming they have famous reclusive rockstar Clay Calloway, played by Bono, on board for the production. Now, all they have to do is actually get him to join the production. If you think that sounds rather hollow as a plot, it’s because it is.

The biggest problem with Sing 2 as a concept is that most of the character’s arcs were finished in the first film – it’s not as if there was much for them to go to, so as a result, they kind of have to rehash the characters but change it slightly. Johnny (Taron Egerton) has gone from struggling to play the piano to struggling to dance. Tori Kelly’s Mina has gone from being very shy and full of stage fright to having problems expressing romance during a song, and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) has a fear of heights. There is a performance that they keep cutting away from, so much so that it fails miserably to convey the storyline – seriously I think they only cut back to this storyline twice during the entire movie.

It also doesn’t help that this is a longer movie coming in at just under two hours. When virtually everything is rehashed from the first movie but done in a more diluted way, that time feels long! It also suffers from what a lot of animated films suffer from now, constant movement and noise. Something I’ve discovered from going to see a lot of films (not just family movies) is that cinema manners are no longer a thing, a lot of movies now seem to not have too many quiet moments because they know that any atmosphere they might give might be interrupted by some idiot in the theatre. I’ve noticed this mostly in kid’s films, so they remedy this with constant movement and noise. There were so few moments where there wasn’t a ton going on. The only time I really felt that was during the interactions between Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Clay Calloway, which is where the writing is the strongest, mainly because it’s something that is different from the first film.

It’s also the fact that this film has a bad guy this time with Mister Crystal. In no uncertain terms, he’s basically a stand in for a cross between Simon Cowell and Andrew Lloyd-Webber taken to the extreme. They even do the whole ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ thing during the audition scene, with him having a massive red buzzer to kick off the acts which, by the way, the first film was also doing by parodying The X Factor, The Voice, etc., so this is yet again another film that the sequel just rehashes. There’s not too many of these auditions that are trying to be funny or creative, either. I started work on this review a day after watching this, and while I can remember a bunch of skits in the auditions from the first film, the only one I can remember from Sing 2 was a bunch of roller skating flamingos singing Cake by the Ocean, a song that is way too overplayed which has robbed it of any substance it might have had when it came out.

That brings me to the soundtrack. One of the things I said about the last film was that while I wasn’t a fan of the soundtrack, they at least did a decent job with covering a decent selection of songs. As a result, they seemed to have a variety of musical styles, so you look at the final performance and the artists have a covered range of different styles. Sing 2 on the other hand, wow, I could completely believe that the soundtrack completely came about because Garth Jennings was stuck in a car listening to Heart FM all day long.

I was worried about this when I saw the trailer, the song that was highlighted the most was ‘There’s Nothing Holding Me Back’ which is a song I really disliked to begin with, but they put in a whole bunch of weird song choices with a whole lot of dance pop and club hits. Nothing about the soundtrack feels very inspired. Most of the songs that are covered do not go further back than the year 2000, another real detriment to the soundtrack.

The biggest breath of fresh air was when ‘Say a Little Prayer’ was covered towards the end. I’m not a massive fan of that one outside of the film, but when it was shown I was happy to hear something different. The only other song that I could think of that was also before the 2000’s was ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ by U2, which is of course there because of the casting of Bono.

And while we’re on the subject of that, let’s talk about the casting. While most of the cast are back, and they all do fine. New cast members include Jennifer Saunders, Bobby Cannavale, and the brilliant choice of Eric André, which you can expect was very funny. They also casted music stars this time round such as Bono, Pharrell and Halsey. They all do fine but they’re put in a hard position – acting is hard to do, and voice acting is even harder, because you’re essentially having to act with yourself and do tons of takes in a confined environment with very little to play off of. Put it this way, you can tell which of the actors are music stars. None of them are as bad as Jessie J in Ice Age 5, as in it’s so bloody noticeable that they were given terrible direction, but I don’t understand why some of these actors were cast. I get the sense that they were mainly cast for their songs.

Bono, to his credit, is given the most meat to chew on in this film (no pun intended towards his role as a lion) but I find it weird that he is given a very gruff voice for the speaking parts, but Bono’s instructed to sing exactly like himself during the singing parts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to say Bono has a bad singing voice, but you could never describe his singing voice as gruff, so the two don’t go together so well. One of the things that surprised me so much was that Bono actually does a rather good American accent!

Halsey comes into play Crystal’s daughter, Porsha, who is a stuck up rich girl that forces her way into the production. She gets a decent character arc even though it was slightly rushed, but again I get the sense that she was only cast because of her musical ability, it felt as though they didn’t really know what to do with her character. It definitely looks as though her character was cast before it was written, which is evident throughout the film because there’s a lot of scenes where she doesn’t even show up.

Pharrell’s part is the most minimal, he plays a teenage ice cream seller who is Mina’s crush that she meets while preparing for the show. Again, he’s only really brought in for his song. Although, it was a smart use of him and I’m glad that his character wasn’t overused.

Sing 2 is a bad movie but it’s only bad in the sense that it is a diluted clone of the first movie. It really didn’t understand that there wasn’t much space for the characters to go post-ending, and as a result, it does come off as a more hollow and ‘by the numbers’ film. It’s a pretty boring plot all things considered, and the soundtrack isn’t nearly as eclectic as the first movie. I just kind of left the film feeling slightly drained overall.. It’s really the only major family film that’s out now, so it’s probably the only thing that most parents are going to take their kids to see for a while- but if you can hold out for a bit, there’s way better family films coming out this year.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th July 2022
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