Sing 2 Review: Illumination Sequel is a Rhythmic and Heartfelt Experience!

Illumination has become a major player in the animation genre. The animated studio made its mark in the world of cinema with Despicable Me and, along with its various sequels, Illumination has only expanded its presence with releases such as The Secret Life of Pets and The Grinch. Among Illumination’s filmography is a jukebox musical about anthropomorphic characters and their dreams to become famous singers. This is movie is none other than Sing. Directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet, Sing debuted in the holiday season of 2016 and accumulated over $600 million in the box office. The film also received an array of positive review and among them was this Film Adventurer as I found Sing to be one of Illumination’s best. With its levels of success, it was not a surprise to hear that Sing was getting a sequel, and sure enough in the holiday season of 2021, Illumination returned to this stage with the release of Sing 2.

Once again directed by Jennings and Lourdelet, Sing 2 sees Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) and the rest of the crew head to Redshore City and take their next step to success by putting on a big show for a major media company. Initially the film was scheduled to hit theaters in December 2020 but had to shift its production due to the pandemic which ultimately shifted the film’s production. Regardless of its release, there was much anticipation surrounding this movie especially after the seeing its trailer and the engaging aspects the preview teased. I was looking forward to Illumination’s newest film and was curious if Sing could become a major franchise for the studio; and what transpired was a sequel that, while not exceeding its predecessor, was an acceptable addition to Illumination.

What made Sing effective was its nuance in both its story as well as its cast, and I think this aspect was still prevalent in Sing 2. Like any sequel, the plot ups the stakes by taking place in a new setting, but it keeps true to the first film by splitting its narrative between each characters’ stories and the overall conflict. In the case of the character’s personal stories, the film was effective in this direction as characters like Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Johnny (Taron Egerton) had clear arcs, but this direction only went so far. Members like Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and Meena (Tori Kelly) had a role to play in the story, but their parts felt limited and the resolution in their tales lacked clarity. This issue was evident in aspects such as the group recruiting iconic singer Clay Calloway (Bono). The preview suggested that Calloway’s inclusion would be a major plot point and in many ways it was. However, because of the contrast between the individual tales and the overarching plot, this plot point lacked the details needed to be truly effective and its conclusion felt rushed. Despite these problems, the story did have its merits. Along with tackling themes like achieving success, this story was filled with solid moments that kept me entertained throughout the whole film; and despite some bumps along the way the plot culminated in a finale that was equally as enjoyable as the first movie’s climax.

Sing featured an impressive ensemble with a variety of standout characters, and it was good to see that the cast of Sing 2 follow suit. While the main crew had a difficult time standing out as individuals, they were effective as a group with pairing such as Buster and Ash showing off the stellar comradery from this band of misfits. Yet the group saw some new additions to its ranks with characters like the lynx Nooshy (Letitia Wright) and Porsha (Halsey): the daughter of media mogul Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). The new characters were hit and miss as though Nooshy and Porsha were good, others like Darius (Eric Andre) and Alfonso (Pharrell Williams) got lost in the shuffle. In the case of Jimmy Crystal, the vile producer turned out to be an enjoyable antagonist, albeit a typical one, which was thanks to Cannavale’s energetic performance. Last and not least was Bono as Clay Calloway. While I was hoping from Calloway’s development, the character was a solid addition to the film and Bono provided a decent performance as the veteran singer.

Jukebox Musicals can be a tricky subject to tackle as it can be difficult to incorporate the covered songs into the story. However, given the film’s concept, Sing was able to utilize each of its covers in a way that made sense and stood out as their renditions. In the case of Sing 2 it was good to see the sequel’s music be just as effective. The songs had the right amount of flare to them while working to the movie’s tone. Among the highlighted song was the opening number “Let's Go Crazy”, Porsha’s big number “Could Have Been Me” and the duet between Ash and Clay “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Helping the songs along was none other than the film’s animation. Keeping the colorful nature of the previous film, the animation had vibrant style to it which was vital in capturing the rhythmic atmosphere that has defined Sing.

While it may not have lived up to expectations, Sing 2 was an enjoyable sequel to the least. The biggest issue film had was its contrasting directions in both the story and characters as it felt like both were trying to do too much. However even with these problems the movie was still a delight thanks to uplifting tone, solid performances and catchy music. While it may not have been the most groundbreaking of animated sequels, Sing 2 managed to live up to its predecessor by being a heartfelt experience and in doing so gave Illumination another solid film, and series, to its resume.

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