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Animation Features Movies

Sing 2

Director – Garth Jennings – 2021 – US – Cert. U – 110m

****

The song and dance impressario tries to duplicate his local success in the entertainment capital of the world – animated sequel is out in cinemas on Friday, January 28th

Following successfully putting on a talent show in his local theatre in Sing (Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet, 2016), impressario koala Buster Moon (voice: Matthew McConaughey) wants to move up to the big leagues and stage a musical in Redshore City, the entertainment capital of the world. He thinks it’s his big break when a talent scout, the tall, thin dog Suki Lane (voice: Chelsea Peretti), visits a performance, but has reckoned without her withering appraisal that he’ll never make it outside his local town.

Her put-down, however, only serves to spur him on to attempt the impossible: he corrals his unbelieving performers to Redshore City by coach, rehearsing a new play on the back with them seat en route, for an audition at the prestigious Crystal Tower Theater in front of its owner, wolf Jimmy Crystal (voice: Bobby Cannavale), who presses the ‘reject’ buzzer on most audition acts within about three stanzas and frequently far less.

Crystal’s rejection of Moon’s act on grounds of looking for something more original prompts the troupe’s precocious pig Gunter (Nick Kroll) to spout off, to Moon’s initial horror, about his own idea for a sci-fi musical set in Outer Space and starring the reclusive, rock star lion Clay Calloway (who hasn’t been seen in public for 15 years since the death of his wife and muse). Calloway fan Crystal is hooked and gives Moon three weeks and full use of the Crystal Theatre’s considerable resources to set up the show.

Two facts swiftly become apparent. One, securing Calloway’s services appears an impossible task since no-one even knows where he lives. Two, Crystal is far from the ideal boss – if Moon can’t get Calloway, Crystal will drop Moon to his death off the balcony of his skyscraper penthouse. Moon’s green lizard assistant with one glass eye Miss Crawly (voice: director Garth Jennings) swiftly finds Calloway’s address, but her disastrous meeting with the star reduces her rented, red sports car to a pile of paintball-spattered junk.

Fortunately, guitar-wielding, singer / songwriter porcupine Ash (voice: Scarlett Johansson) is familiar with Calloway’s work and may have a better chance of persuading him to join the show. As will be apparent to fans of the band U2 from Trailer 2 below, the star is voiced by their singer Bono with one of the band’s finest songs ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’ playing a key role in the narrative.

That narrative has shifted from Sing’s “am I good enough to put on / take part in a local show?” story arc to “are we good enough to put on a show in the big time?” Performing pig Rosita (voice: Reese Witherspoon) discovers she can’t jump off a high diving board wearing a flying wire rig, so loses her space explorer role to Crystal’s enthusiastic and spoiled wolf daughter Porsha (voice: Halsey) who can fly and sing but not, as it turns out, act. Something of a problem since her dad is putting up the money, a theme as old as the movies themselves.

English gorilla Johnny (voice: Taron Egerton) must contend with feelings of inadequacy in the face of unsympathetic professional choreographer Klaus Kickenklober (voice: Adam Buxton), turning to street dancer Nooshy (voice: Letitia Wright from the Black Panther franchise) for help. Johnny’s tough streetwise dad turns up later with his ape gang to provide security when Crystal threatens to close Moon’s show down.

Meanwhile, seeking motivation for her big romantic scene with self-obsessed, multi-award-winning, leading man Darius (voice: Eric André), elephant Meena (voice: Tori Kelly) turns to ice cream sales elephant Alfonso (voice: Pharrell Williams).

The sight gags are witty rather than laugh aloud funny – the best one has Miss Crawly hanging onto the side of an industrial floor cleaning machine with her glass eye rolling round and round like a wheel as it touches the floor – and very much play second fiddle to story and character. Rather like the idea of a world-beating theatre at which no expense is spared in bringing a breathtaking, visual spectacular to fruition, the animation’s art direction feels limitless.

Among its considerable achievements are the vast, detailed Redshore cityscape, the choreography of flying rig moves through the volumetric space of the theatre interior, scene changes for four serial alien worlds, doubling the theatre as a concert venue to rival anything in U2 3D (Catherine Owens, Mark Pellington, 2007) and a night shift army of cleaning staff mice who unexpectedly can tap dance. This is a film to see on a really big screen with the best Dolby Atmos sound system you can find.

Bigger in scope than its predecessor, Sing 2 proves constantly engaging thanks to the superb characters both reappearing from the original and new to this particular second outing, all brilliantly fleshed out by Jennings’ screenplay and character designer Eric Guillon, under the watchful eye of Chris Meledandri, whose company Illumination Studios is the driving force behind the Despicable Me franchise and its much loved spin-off characters the Minions. There’s constantly lots going on before the eyes and ears, not in that horrible, overpowering way that seems to afflict so many contemporary, big budget, so-called ‘family films’, but rather as an enjoyable aural and visual feast throughout. My one qualm is that if it’s supposed to be funny, it didn’t make me laugh. Yet it’s so inventive and engrossing throughout that this scarcely seems to matter.

Sing 2 is out in cinemas in the UK on Friday, January 28th.

Trailer:

Trailer 2:

Trailer 3:

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