Sing 2 Sing 2

Illumination’s first film in two and a half years, and the last major animated release of 2021, has landed — just as Omicron threatens a new round of box-office chaos.

Sing 2 is the studio’s tardy follow-up to 2016 hit Sing, and it picks up where that film left off: with koala Buster Moon running a successful theater. But he and his troupe of singing animals still have much to prove, so they move to big-time Redshore City and plan a show involving reclusive rock-star lion Clay Calloway, who’s by voiced by that great icon of 2021 youth culture: U2’s Bono.

Like the original, Sing 2 stakes much of its appeal on its voice cast, which includes returning actors Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Taron Egerton, and Tori Kelly. Among the newcomers are Pharrell Williams, Letitia Wright, Eric Andre, and Chelsea Peretti. Garth Jennings returns to write and direct, with Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy producing. The film is released by Universal.

Sing 2 hasn’t scored rave reviews, but nor has it been slated. Most critics find things to enjoy in the film, whose Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes stands at 67% at the time of writing. Yesterday, it was nominated for best feature at the Annie Awards.

Here’s what the reviewers are saying:

Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times was entertained:

There’s plenty of eye-popping animation, nifty choreography, and dynamic action — both on stage and off — to keep viewers invested, even if a ten-minute trim wouldn’t have been the worst thing. And if great narrative logic isn’t the film’s strong suit, it includes a string of mini life lessons that add a bit of nourishment to this joyously over-the-top meal.

Sing 2

The Associated Press’s Jake Coyle is more measured in his praise:

It’s all amiable, shallow, and occasionally sweet. Though most of the wall-to-wall music is pulled right off the studio’s own bestselling shelves, there’s a poignant, wordless moment of the gang rehearsing on the back of the bus set to the far less predictable “Holes,” by 1990s indie act Mercury Rev. If any narrative thread holds the movie together, it’s each character dealing with their own version of anxiety, fear, and stage fright as performers. While a laudable message for a kids movie, it’s drowned out by the movie’s commercialized blare.

Peter Debruge agrees that story is sidelined, writing in Variety:

It’s all part of the Tiktok-ification of mainstream media, as the attention-deficit storytelling bombards audiences with a monster playlist of song snippets, some performed by characters, others lacquered over the action to keep kids engaged. While the characters go about the familiar enough work of writing and rehearsing a musical, Jennings constantly cuts away to embellish the experience with throwaway visual gags (mostly animals doing silly things) that play like two- to ten-second viral videos. That approach speaks to a key difference between Illumination and such competitors as Pixar and Dreamworks: Sing 2 isn’t really about coherent storytelling so much as analyzing and anticipating what will make audiences feel good.

Awarding the film two stars out of four in The Washington Post, Kristen Page-Kirby comments on the visual production:

The film … shares the distinctive look of that studio’s animation: slick and bright, but without the depth or nuance of a Pixar film. The large-scale production numbers are fun to watch, if chaotic at times. The handful of scenes in which characters soar through the air on wires are actually kind of beautiful.

Indiewire’s Fiona Underhill has little good to say about the film, awarding it a D grade:

[I]t feels like a mistake to hinge an animated children’s movie in the year 2021 around the collated works of Bono and U2. Even for fans of U2, Bono’s bewildering presence is more likely to prompt existential despair than feelings of warmth or nostalgia. While the voice cast … do a solid job with the songs, the covers are all auto-tuned, throwaway numbers. The continued Glee-ification of the music is simply more depressing than uplifting.