Years of raising children has put my wife off animated films.
This probably wasn’t such a big deal when I was a kid, back when the dinosaurs were roaming the earth, but when our kids were little the same handful of kids’ DVDs tended to be recycled through the day, and as a result, my wife reckons she’s seen movies like Toy Story 2, Madagascar, and Barbie in the Princess and the Pauper dozens of times. I have as well, although most of those times were not all the way through from beginning to end, but rather quite piecemeal, and at times I was more hearing them then watching them (because they were watching it on a long road trip, I heard Madagascar maybe ten times before I saw it).
Anyway, all of this has given my wife a blanket distaste for animated films.
There are, however, a few exceptions that have crept in–animated films that she has watched and felt to be good and enjoyable. One of those was Sing, from 2016. It was largely the music that appealed to her, it seems. I eventually saw it as well, although I don’t really remember it very well.
All that led to us going to check out Sing 2 last week, during the brief window when my kids were home after their camp but before they had left for their Summer of Service outreach.
It was a pretty enjoyable experience. It’s not a movie that holds up under great scrutiny, of course, and it’s not likely to be on any Top 10 lists of mine (although maybe it’d be on my Top 10 Reese Witherspoon movies? I’m not a big fan of hers.) But I was never bored and never annoyed, which right away puts it ahead of so many other things that I have watched over the decades.
The story is about Buster Moon, the show-producing Koala from the first movie (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), who has great ambitions that his locally-popular ensemble of talented singers should hit the big time by getting in with a big entertainment magnate named Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale) who is looking for a new act to headline a show at his hotel. Through a silly set of misunderstandings, Buster’s group gets the gig, but has only three weeks to write and produce a brand new science fiction spectacular–the sort of thing which nobody could actually do in real life but in a kids’ movie like this, is all very acceptable.
Unfortunately for Buster, though, Crystal (a wolf) is absolutely insane and a criminal to boot—-he feels completely entitled to drop Buster off a balcony to his certain death if he disappoints him. And disappointment seems certain as Buster has promised he can get the reclusive musical genius Clay Calloway (Bono, of all people) to come out of hiding to appear in the show–something that Buster has absolutely no way of doing.
Misadventure and hijinks ensue as all of the main members of the ensemble have their own little plotline that needs to be resolved:
• Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a housewife pig turned leading lady is proud as anything when she is awarded the show’s starring role, but finds herself too scared to perform a dangerous live stunt. She ends up being replaced by Porsha (Halsey), who is Crystal’s daughter–a talented singing and dancing daredevil, but a terrible actress.
• Gorilla Johnny (Taron Ederton) must contend with a hostile and arrogant dance instructor, and finds himself failing miserably until he meets and is trained by a street dancer, Nooshy (Letitia Wright).
• Elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), has to perform a romantic number with smug and self-centered partner, but really she is in love with a humble ice cream vendor who works near the theatre.
• And Ash, the rock-star porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) has her hands full when she realizes she is the only one who can connect with Clay Calloway and convince him to come out of hiding and do the show.
Of course, it all comes together by the end of the movie (and the end of the show) as everything is resolved. Light-hearted stuff, of course, but well-suited for the project.
The songs are fun, which is the key thing here. Plus the animation is solid, and the imagery actually quite beautiful in its fineness of detail. And enough of the jokes land to keep the bits in between the songs from being dull–I particularly laughed as Gunter, an enthusiastic singing and dancing pig who was playing a robot in the big show, added “beep beep” noises into his song.
My only complaint about Sing 2 is a pretty minor one–the whole story is building to this bit where the rock legend Clay Calloway finally takes the stage and sings publicly for the first time in 15 years. Cab is voiced by Bono from U2, and the song he sings is Where the Streets Have No Name, so that’s all kind of perfect. Except the song is just a bit too short. Given that it’s Bono and we’ve been waiting for him the entire movie, I think they could have just included another verse or another time around the chorus or whatever. It would have made the ending just a bit more satisfying–and I’m not even a big U2 fan.
But that’s really a nit-picky gripe, and I know it. I liked Sing 2–it doesn’t do anything to transcend its genre, but that’s just fine. It’s a solidly enjoyable family film, and thanks to how technically rich the art is, I’m glad I saw it in the cinema.