Movie Review: The cool kids will sing-along to “Sing 2”

There are worse ways to spend a holiday matinee than sitting with the kids watching and singing along with a “Sing” movie.

“Sing 2” is just as long, just as childishly-plotted and almost manic in its haste to hurtle from tune to tune. But it’s harmless and harmonious, which is the bottom line all parents look for when entertaining the 8-and-unders.

“Say a Little Prayer” all you want, but what other movie can you imagine that would have the nerve to serve up Reese Witherspoon as a pig covering Ariana Grande, she wolf Halsey singing Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” and a porcupine-voiced Scarlett Johansson putting heart and soul into “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?”

A little Rodgers & Hammerstein (“Something Wonderful”), a dab of Steve Miller (“Abra Cadabra”), a slice of Steve Winwood (“Higher Love”), a blast of Prince (“Let’s Go Crazy”), a sample of The Struts (“Could Have Been Me”) and a cold cool splash of Coldplay (“Sky Full of Stars”) whiz by in a musical blur sometimes performed by the original artists, but most often covered by the singers/actors playing animated “all creatures great and small,” critters who just want to “put on a show.”

That’s our plot. Koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is still out to prove that “You’re Never Too Small to Hit the Big Time” (song idea for MM for “Sing 3” — Webb Wilder, look’em up). But he and his little band of dreamers — porcine Rosita (Witherspoon) and Gunther (Nick Kroll, the comic highlight), timid elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), singing gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) and guitar goddess Ash (Johansson) — still haven’t proven themselves in “the entertainment capital.”

A talent scout from there blows them off. So there’s nothing for it but to catch a bus to Redshore City and make their pitch to the impresario himself, the short-tempered white wolf named Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale).

He isn’t bowled over, but Gunther’s mad notion of a sci-fi musical revue, “Out of this World,” changes Crystal’s mind. One condition? They’d better deliver the leonine legend Clay Calloway (Bono), a once major figure in music whose tunes they want to use, in person, singing a role. One later condition? Crystal’s daughter (Halsey) wants to be in the show, too.

The big parent appeal of this impressively-animated spectacle is the song line-up, tunes many who grew up in the ’90s-2000s and now have children of their own will know by heart. No, not everyone will recognize the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (“Heads Will Roll,” covered by ScarJo), but the Weeknd’s “Cant’ Feel My Face” is represented, Bomba Estero is here, and Billie Eilish and Elton John.

The movie surrounding the tunes isn’t all that, despite Illumination’s dazzling, colorful animation. But the ensemble crooning “Where the Streets Have No Name” and Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” makes the time and the movie fly by so fast that you won’t mind.

Rating: PG for some rude material and mild peril/violence

Cast: The voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlet Johansson, Letitia Wright, Nick Kroll, Halsey, Bobby Cannavale, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Pharrell Williams and Bono.

Credits: Scripted and directed by Garth Jennings. A Universal release.

Running time: 1:50

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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