★★★★ - STUFF
- Superior sequel finds insight and heart it was looking for - in Bono -
His latest Alice in Wonderland-inspired stage production might be a sell out success, but Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) wants more.
The marsupial impresario dreams of taking his troupe to the bright lights of Redshore City, that’s why he’s so excited about the presence of Crystal Entertainment scout Suki Lane (Chelsea Peretti).
But, despite a count of “nine smiles, two belly laughs and five chuckles”, she isn’t sold. “It’s a cute little show – a few laughs, some quirky ideas – just not what we’re looking for.”
It’s an assessment that leaves Buster blue, until Nana (Jennifer Saunders) urges him to break out of his funk “and fight for what you believe in”.
So, after persuading his key performers to board a bus to Redshore, Buster hatches a plan to sneak into Crystal’s latest round of auditions. And although, like the monkey magicians, dancing flamingos and virtually all the other acts on display, they can’t evade Mr Crystal’s (Bobby Cannavale) infamous red buzzer, they’re thrown a lifeline when he takes a shine to a sci-fi musical idea created by Gunter (Nick Kroll) on the hoof, especially when Buster, sensing success, promises that it will star rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono).
However, with only three weeks to get the show together (or Crystal and Buster will have a rooftop date with destiny), Buster’s myriad problems include coming up with a plot, songs and, biggest of all, persuading a grieving recluse, who hasn’t been seen in years, that he should make his comeback with a bunch of amateurs.
Part of a wave of high-profile anthropomorphic animal animations in the middle of the last decade (Zootopia, The Secret Life of Pets), the original Sing was a fun, but forgettable Muppet Show-meets-A Star is Born tale that lacked any great nuance, or insightful allegories.
How much you enjoyed that movie depended on your tolerance for flatulent bison, celebrity voice artists and Elton John songs from the 1980s.
But although McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon and others are back for a second round and the soundtrack again resembles an eclectic radio station playlist (everyone from Prince to Billie Eilish, Kiana and U2 get the cover treatment), returning writer-director Garth Jennings has added a little extra depth and poignancy to the knockabout action. While Johansson’s Ash has to make a stand about being underpaid, Calloway wrestles with deep, personal loss and Buster tries to maintain artistic integrity in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
If that all sounds a little too much for a family film, never fear, it certainly doesn’t detract from, or reduce, the number of visual gags, verbal japes, or showstopping musical numbers.
Cannavale’s Crystal is a suitably menacing nemesis for our plucky band, while his self-obsessed daughter Porsha (Halsey) is a scene-stealing revelation (one only bettered by Buster’s iguana assistant Miss Crawley and her glass eye).
In the end though, Sing 2 succeeds in being superior to its predecessor by building on the characters it established and delivering a story that has extra heft and resonance.
- James Croot, STUFF
Sing 2 is now playing at Light House Cinema!