Second albums can be notoriously tricky, but Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet’s energetic 2016 computer-animated musical sequel achieves the same feat as Queen, Nirvana, Adele, Madonna and Carole King in delivering a follow-up that surpasses its predecessor. .
In the case of Sing 2, the bar hasn’t been set at a disconcerting level. The first film was a painfully predictable race to save a theater from closure by inviting anthropomorphic creatures large and small to compete in a singing contest.
Jennings and co-director Lourdelet have learned from some of their previous mistakes to deliver a simplistic yet narratively simplistic sequel that preaches the same messages of unity and courage to a soundtrack by Prince, Shawn Mendes, Coldplay, The Struts and U2. .
It’s an extremely sweet dish with sporadic laughs thanks to an aging iguana with an ill-fitting glass eye, which serves as the perfect paintball target in the sequel’s most snorting interlude.
Stage-stealing reptilian antics aside, Jennings’ screenplay makes obvious targets laugh softly and unabashedly rips the chord as it tackles grief at surface level.
Like the digitally rendered creatures on screen, Sing 2 overcomes its shortcomings and occasional awkwardness to encourage parents to tap their “tiptoes” as kids overdose on candy-colored visuals.
The enterprising koala Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) puts on sold-out shows at the New Moon Theater in Calatonia with his resident troupe of creatures: Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and her dancing pig partner Gunter (Nick Kroll), the gorilla Johnny ( Taron Egerton) and the elephant Meena (Tori Kelly).
The bear impresario invites talent scout Suki (Chelsea Peretti) from Crystal Entertainment to evaluate his Alice in Wonderland revamp.
She comes out in the first half: “You’re not good enough. You will never succeed in the big leagues.
The koala is crestfallen until his mentor, retired sheep diva Nana Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders), inspires Buster to have ‘gut, stamina, faith’ and crashes Crystal Entertainment auditions in Redstone City hosted by arctic wolf CEO Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale).
Porcupine punk rocker Ash (Scarlett Johansson) reunites with the gang for the tryout, but Crystal isn’t impressed until Gunter pitches the idea of a sci-fi extravaganza that would bring the rock star back from the lion Clay Calloway (Bono) on stage after a 15 year break.
Crystal gives Buster three weeks to fulfill Gunter’s extravagant fantasy.
“Don’t do anything to make me look bad or I’ll throw you off the roof,” growls the wolf.
Sing 2 Dances to the same tune as the 2016 film, but with greater gusto and more polished animation over the elegantly choreographed song and dance numbers.
A subplot that ‘forces’ shy teenager Meena to kiss a selfish older co-star during a love duet hits an uncomfortable note, but Jennings and Lourdelet navigate a minefield of their own making on the melody by Dionne Warwick.
For this we also say a small prayer.