As I stood outside of the theater after Sing 2, my youngest niece asked me what I thought of the movie. Ah, to have the innocence of an adolescent once again. . . . I had to go back and see what I thought of Sing (2016), a film that I saw in preparation for the sequel that came out this past weekend. I presumed madness in my review of the predecessor, and the successor did not disappoint. My cursory glance at the previous write up also reminded me how I spent most of the time wondering how this world works, where animals do what we humans normally do. I do not specifically remember this from before, but it was a nagging feeling I had throughout the slog that is Sing 2. Yet, I had my poor niece’s simple question to answer. There have been many pieces of cinema that I lot of people liked that I have torn to shreds in my assessment of their qualities. And as my niece looked up at me, she added, “Please say yes!” Not wanting to lie to her, I requested that she ask a different question. She is quite the brilliant nine-year-old, so she said, “Is the sky blue?” “Yes!”
Sing 2 is a continuation of its predecessor, with its main character Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) continuing to put on shows involving the performers he had previously recruited. As before, there are a lot of people involved, and I am not going to have time to get to them all. In fact, you can make the argument that there is no main character here, which will be helpful in writing this review. Anyway, they are putting on a musical production of Alice in Wonderland, but most importantly there is an agent in the crowd. This is an anthropomorphic dog (they are all anthropomorphic) named Suki (voiced by Chelsea Peretti), and she represents entertainment mogul wolf Jimmy Crystal (voiced by Bobby Cannavale). Buster hopes that his show will impress her so that they can bring it to Redshore City, the apparent Las Vegas equivalent in this mad universe. When she gets up to leave before the second act, and her subsequent refusal to see his and his performers’ star potential, he is devastated. After receiving a pep talk from former diva Nana Noodleman (voiced by Jennifer Saunders) (see review to Sing), Buster tosses and turns one night before coming up with his next big idea. Gathering the singers and dancers from before (minus a few, who I am guessing spurned the idea of a sequel), they head to Redshore City and rehearse their new act on the bus. Sneaking onto the tryout stage, the extremely hard to please Mr. Crystal pushes the rejection button (literally) before they get more than a few words into their piece. What saves the day is the pig with the German accent (for reasons) Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), who has an idea for a space musical. What clinches the impromptu pitch for Mr. Crystal is Gunter stating it would be the perfect role for Clay Calloway (voiced by Bono), a reclusive rock star who has not been heard from for fifteen years. Mr. Crystal gives Buster the go ahead, with the threat that if the koala does not deliver, the producer will be dead. Despite not having any connection to Calloway, Buster and Gunter set to work right away creating a space musical from scratch. He leaves his first attempt at getting Calloway to be a part of the production to his elderly and inept iguana assistant Miss Crawly (voiced by Garth Jennings). He also has to deal with a number of potential threats to him putting on the show, the main one being the insertion of Mr. Crystal’s daughter Porsha (voiced by Halsey) at her and her dad’s insistence, the lead role no less. Hence, what was supposed to be a big part for the pig mother of dozens of piglets Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), is now given to a ditzy late teenager with little acting ability. Making matters worse is the brutal rebuffing received by Miss Crawly when she attempted to make contact with Calloway. Seeing the show falling apart before it premiers, Buster takes resident rock n’ rolling porcupine Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) with him to plead with Calloway. Buster makes little progress also, but Ash believes she can convince him with a little more time. Feeling slightly emboldened, Buster returns to the set and requests that Porsha step aside to let Rosita take the lead once more. Porsha takes it as being fired, and when Mr. Crystal hears about it, he summons Buster to murder the koala. Great kids’ movie material, right? What saves Buster is Suki, who frees him and tells him to get out of town. Buster stays, particularly at the encouragement of Ash when she shows up with Calloway, and they devise a way of putting on the show behind Mr. Crystal’s back. Of course, the production is a hit, Mr. Crystal is arrested (for threatening Buster, I guess), and Buster and company go on to bigger things.
I do not understand Sing 2, or the original one, or why anyone likes them. Forget the fact that they are animated musicals. I get that I am being curmudgeonly when it comes to these types of films. As with nearly all iterations of its ilk, I cannot get over some of the things that do not make sense. In the conclusion to my review of Sing, I went into some of the minutiae of what felt strange. This mostly pertained to mice driving human-sized cars. What struck me most here is how extraordinary (in a negative way) are these anthropomorphic characters. I suspect that the makers were trying to say something about diversity. After all, there are no “races” among animals. And yet, how do we get future generations in this world? Miscegenation was something once outlawed in this country, which was stupid because it was based on the utter ignorance and stupidity that is racism. Since those days, in mostly positive ways, we have learned that it is better to love one another than hate. That is a Christian ideal, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Yet, we do not want to say such things these days because to do so could be construed as too traditional or old fashioned. Instead, we are left with a bland, meaningless equality that actually highlights differences rather than similarities. I am probably making a mountain out of a mole hill (there is a pun somewhere here), but the subtext in Sing 2, like its predecessor, displays inequalities more so than anything else. A koala is clearly powerless against a wolf, unless it gets Johnny’s (voiced by Taron Egerton) gorilla dad and the rest of his troop to help. More broadly, as I mentioned before, this imbalance comes out in personal bonds. Take the shy elephant diva Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), for instance. She is asked to do a love duet with the vain yak Darius (voiced by Eric André). She feels uncomfortable with the situation until she envisions the yak as another elephant instead. Yet, why can we not have an elephant and a yak falling in love? This question becomes even more pointed when you realize there are no hybrid offspring seen in either film. Again, this is a minor point, and yet we know there are children because Rosita has them by the bushel. Thus, forgive me, but I will stick to my Christian notions of diversity.
Sing 2 is not bad because there are no half elephant, half yak beasts to be seen. It is bad because there is virtually no character development for anyone. The most you can say is that Calloway learns to move on by performing music once more, which helps him heal from the death of his wife. Yet again we have another great theme for a movie aimed at children. With all due respect to my dear nieces, the film is simply two hours of pretty colors and nothing else. Kids laugh because you have animals doing human actions, but the lack of depth is what ultimately turns me away.