By: Chris Alves

Illumination Studios/Universal Pictures Copyright 2021

If an animated movie starring a koala exists: I am going to see it. I was lucky enough to attend the Sing 2 World Premiere in the Greek Amphitheater in Los Angeles. Complete with free colorful blankets adorned with the Sing 2 Logo and light-up bracelets that shined different colors to the beat of every song throughout the movie, the event felt like a true celebration of the work from the Sing 2 team. This feeling of exuberance was further highlighted by the appearance of the film’s star-studded cast. Witnessing the long line of celebrities across the stage further conveyed the grandiosity of the movie I was about to watch; I couldn’t have been more excited!

Sing 2 World Premiere in Griffith Park, Los Angeles CA

Illumination Studio’s Sing 2, written and directed by the acclaimed Garth Jennings, returns to the iconic world of the Sing Universe. But this time, the characters’ journey takes them to Redshore City, a bustling Hollywood-esque metropolis and center of the entertainment industry. The story features the same characters you fell in love with in the original including the starry-eyed Buster Moon the Koala (voiced by Oscar-Winner, Matthew McConaughey) and the wearied-mother-gone-popstar Rita the Pig (voiced by Oscar-Winner, Reese Witherspoon). Additionally, the movie is filled to the brim with many other new characters for the audience to meet!

The movie begins back at the New Moon Theater where the gang is putting on a production of Alice and Wonderland. While the show is an absolute hit with the locals, a talent scout (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) is unimpressed and urges Buster (Matthew McConaughey) to give up his dreams of stardom. Determined to prove her wrong, Buster rounds up the rock star porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson), the mama pig Rita (Reese Witherspoon), the humble gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), the sweet yet timid elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), and the iconic piggie himself, Gunter (Nick Kroll). Together, they are able to sneak into the Crystal Entertainment Office and secure a meeting with entertainment tycoon Billy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). At first, Billy is unimpressed by the group’s performance until Gunter unveils his outlandish plans for a space opera with the world-famous Clay Calloway’s (Bono) name attached. Intrigued, Billy agrees to help Buster put on their musical. What Buster doesn’t know is that Clay Calloway has been in hiding for fifteen years since his wife’s passing… And that Billy Crystal is NOT someone that you want to disappoint! They’re on the clock now, as Buster and his friends race to find Clay Calloway, convince him to come out of hiding, and do all of that while creating an entire space opera in just three weeks. In a story packed with excitement, drama, and a breakdancing cat, Sing 2 pays homage to the healing power of music while also teaching its audience valuable lessons in love, friendship, and passion!

Illumination Studios/Universal Pictures Copyright 2021

There’s a lot that I like about Sing 2. Illumination provides absolutely excellent visuals throughout the film. From the bigger moments during the musical performances complete with vivid outer space backdrops to the smaller ones such as Buster’s blowout causing his hair to stick out in every direction, you can tell that Illumination paid attention to detail throughout the production process. I also really enjoyed the musical numbers! Every song cover felt so grand but you could tell the voice actors were having so much fun while recording their songs. I still cannot get enough of Halsey covering The Struts Could’ve Been Me! The amazing choreography in these numbers was the icing on the cake as it really made the audience feel like we were watching a live musical!

Illumination Studios/Universal Pictures Copyright 2021

The voice actors also did an amazing job with their characters. When you have a lot of celebrity actors as your main voice cast, things can turn south quickly. Yet, I never thought that while watching the movie. The combination of the writers creating roles that work with the actors’ strengths and the actors themselves being professionals and having fun with their characters really makes the film work. I found myself giggling, and on-occasion full-on cackling, at the interactions between Jimmy Crystal, his daughter (Halsey), and Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings). Beyond those moments, the movie was contained tons of great one-liners and slapstick humor from other members of the cast! Also, Bono does an amazing job delivering an emotional performance as Mr. Calloway. Through his interactions with Ash the Porcupine, the audience really gets to see him come to terms with his grief. Overall, it felt like the cast really brought it for this film.

Illumination Studios/Universal Pictures Copyright 2021

However, this brings up some major issues I had with the movie. Sing already has a large cast of characters that are now joined by an even larger cast of characters, each voiced by a well-known celebrity. You would think that due to the size of the insanely large ensemble cast, at least a couple of the main characters would share an arc to save time. But you would be wrong. Each character (Ash, Rita, Johnny, Meena, and Gunter) all have their own side plots outside of Buster’s story that barely coincide with each other outside of the rehearsal space. This is especially distressing when you realize these side plots do not pick up until approximately 30 minutes into the runtime. A lot of fans criticized the original trailer of the movie for showing too much of the plot. After watching Sing 2, I have to disagree with the general consensus because it seemed like there were ten other subplots that the trailer did not get to. Sure, we knew Mr. Calloway’s tragic backstory but who could’ve guessed Meena was going to have to learn how to stage kiss a rude buffalo voiced by Eric Andre?

This led to an issue with the characters not having believable story arcs. While the aforementioned side plots were wrapped up nicely for each character at the end like any good family movie should, it didn’t appear realistic or earned for almost anyone. As a result, I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I was after watching the first film. Nor did I feel the same amount of payoff. I’d like to believe that an unreleased three-hour draft of Sing 2 exists in which each character gets a plausible amount of time to face their conflict and grow by the end of the movie. (#ReleaseTheJenningsCut you cowards!) But realistically, I don’t think there could have ever been enough time to give these characters realistic resolutions.

Illumination Studios/Universal Pictures Copyright 2021

With its gorgeous animation and its hilarious cast of characters, Sing 2 provides its audience is very signature Illumination Studios. While the story has some flaws, the movie can be a treat for the eyes, ears, and funny bone from start to finish! You can see Sing 2 in theaters starting today, December 22!

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