Before I begin my review of Sing 2, I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mother.
Like any person, she had her faults, but aside from being as human as anyone else, she was smart, she was kind – and she had a way with words I envied from the age of six years old. Many a night I would sit beside her as she wrote her stories on yellow legal pads, and later stared up at the computer screen as she typed them out on the most ancient of DOS word processors, Electric Desk. I would watch her fingers fly, read words I barely understood at such a young age, and I would be enraptured.
The first time I got to sit in front of that computer and write a story, just like her, was one of the most exciting moments of my life. I was barely seven or eight, it was a half page long piece of Barbie fanfiction, and I was convinced I was God with the power to create worlds in my tiny hunt and peck hands as they lumbered across the keyboard.
I was thirteen when my mother died, and I didn’t write another word for many years. Sometimes it’s hard, even now, to put my fingers on a keyboard and let that power come over me again … but that’s one thing that words and musical notes have in common.
Stories, like songs, have the power to heal. They have the power to mend broken hearts and even raise the dead—and that is the simple, shining core of Sing 2. Where its predecessor showed that music had power at all, in this beautiful sequel we learn just what that power can do.
The story of the film is pretty formulaic, but formulas exist because they work: high on their success and the discovery of what they’re capable of with their gifts firm in hand, the ragtag band of singing animals that make up the cast of the Moon Theater, led by koala impressario Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), reach for dreams that are a little further out of their grasp. The crew heads to the entertainment capital of their little world, and to put on the show of their lives they must convince a reclusive musical legend to step back into the limelight: an imposing lion whose voice was silenced by tragedy.
Without spoiling the film, I can honestly say that answering this question hits very close to home. It’s a surprisingly serious subject to deal with in such a family friendly film, but just like the first one they do so with amazing grace, fun, and a touch of magic that doesn’t come from great animation, writing, or even acting.
It comes from the love that’s behind it. Sing was about the love and passion in music, and in Sing 2, that love and that passion work their will to show how powerful they can be. Whether its facing one’s fears for love of friends like Rosita the pig (Reese Witherspoon), overcoming self doubt like Johnny the gorilla (Taron Egerton), finding the courage to connect like shrinking violet Meena the elephant (Tori Kelly), or even embracing a love that hurts like Clay Calloway (Bono), the washed up rock star with surprising skill and nuance, music and the emotion behind it can work miracles.
I saw myself in Clay Calloway throughout the course of this movie—angry and afraid, lost in grief, hiding from the spark within to escape the pain. In Sing 2, he had the spunky teenage rocker Ash, wonderfully voiced by Scarlett Johannson, to guide him back into the light.
Me? I identified with Clay, but I was in Ash’s role at the beginning – and as a younger woman, lost in grief and hiding from the spark within, it was a spunky older mentor who guided me back to the light…and right to my computer, where I’m writing to this very day, having my work read by every one of you. That’s a feat my mother never got to achieve.
Sing 2 is as full of magic, heart, and musical fun as the original, if not moreso – but remains unique and breathtaking with the way it portrays heartbreak and those first biblical, tremulous steps we all have to take before we can do unthinkably wonderful things.
Things like picking up your guitar—or your pen—to give magic one more chance.
Have you felt the magic yet? Want to take a shot? Check your local theater to see if Sing 2 is still running. It’s also available via video on demand, and will be out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 29th.
Liz Carlie (she/her/he/him) is a regular book, TV, and film reviewer for SCIFI.radio and has previously been a guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. In addition to being an active member of the traditional fandom community, she’s also an active participant in online fan culture, pro wrestling journalism, and spreading the gospel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She resides in Southern California with her aspiring superhero dog, Junior, enjoying life one hyperfixation at a time.