From left to right, a frog, Miss Crawley, Buster Moon and Gunter take care of the backstage controls. Photo courtesy of Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures
LOS ANGELES, December 20 (UPI) – The plot of To sing was pretty slim: celebrities voice animal characters singing pop songs while putting on a show. It’s fair to say Sing 2 is a better movie than To sing because there was a lot of room for improvement. Sing 2 doesn’t transcend Pixar’s animation levels, but it’s a good time at the movies.
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has a sold-out show at his small town theater. He wants big city talent agent Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale) to consider them for a Redstone City show. Crystal’s assistant Suki Lane (Chelsea Peretti) doesn’t think he’s good enough, so Buster and the gang travel to Redstone City to interrupt the auditions and show him their show is worthy of one of his scenes. .
Buster manages to do this, but the catch is, he makes it sound like he knows reclusive singer Clay Calloway (Bono) and that Clay is involved in the show. So Buster commits to having Clay there, confident that he can convince Clay to join the show later.
The animation of Illumination continues to improve exponentially from movie to movie. Redstone City is a faithful facsimile of Las Vegas, with all the adult elements made suitable for families. Buster puts on two lavish shows, one at the start and one at the end, full of elaborate choreography and musical harmony.
The story of Sing 2 is a natural evolution of To sing. If the first film helped a group of underdogs save their theater, the next creative step is when they get too big for their theater. Performers want to grow, and each character has their own personal growth subplot. Meena (Tori Kelly) is afraid of performing a major stunt on the show and will have to muster her courage at some point. His other subplot about having a love interest on stage is less developed.
Buster faces bigger issues in the entertainment business, such as a producer who insists on creative decisions. He inherits Crystal’s daughter, Porsha (Halsey) who is luckily another fantastic singer. In order to get Clay to join the show, they must convince him to sing again, as he put his music on the back burner when his wife died. It’s a pretty deep concept for a children’s film, finding your voice after grief.
None of these themes develop particularly overtly, but at least hints of meaning are there. The original To sing basically just sounding the keys in front of the small children with colorful animals and loud music. Sing 2 feels like a party where joy is contagious. If your kids are having fun and learning positive messages, there are worse ways to keep them entertained.
Sing 2 is in theaters Wednesday.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more about his work in the entertainment industry.