It’s a tough time for animated movies, as families have tended to stay away from the cinema. This has resulted in the last three Pixar movies going straight to streaming, much to the chagrin of the animators if reports are to be believed.
Rivals Illumination don’t seem to have had as much trouble. The wildly successful creators of Despicable Me and The Secret Life of Pets scored the biggest animated box office of 2021 with Sing 2, which comes to these shores this week after a lengthy delay due to you-know-what.
Set a month after the story of 2016’s Sing, we go back to the world of anthropomorphic animals, and to the theatre owned by entrepreneurial koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey). Having saved his venue in the first film, he has dreams of bigger things, but is knocked back when he’s told his show just isn’t good enough. Determined to prove them wrong, he takes his troupe to Redshore City to put on a show and impress an entertainment mogul. To make their dreams come true, however, they need to find a reclusive rock star named Clay Calloway (Bono), and convince him to join them.
So, it’s another show, another setback, and another singer who needs to believe in themselves. It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and British director Gareth Jennings has no problem playing the hits.
As strange as it is to hear The Weeknd’s drug anthem Can’t Feel My Face sung by animals in a family movie, the performances feel fresh and energetic. Like Buster himself, it’s a movie that just wants to entertain, and has enough sincerity to win the applause.
The bubbly animation duets with the incredible voice cast, most of whom return from the previous movie. McConaughey’s unmistakable drawl is perfect for the Buster, with positivity radiating from screen, while Scarlett Johansson’s punk por- cupine and Taron Egerton’s rock gorilla are just as endearing.
Of the new additions, Bobby Cannevale resists the mafia tropes as the producer they’re trying to impress, and then there’s Bono. The U2 front-man hides a lot of his deficiencies in a growly accent befitting his lion character, and in a story this wholesome he gets away with a spirited effort.
In the first act, a snooty talent scout dismisses Buster’s show as “a few laughs, a bunch of quirky ideas”. Sing 2 is certainly more than that, recapturing the heart and humour that made the first film a smash. It may be a reprise rather than a new track, but fans will be tapping their toes nonetheless.