It’s been a few years since Buster Moon realized his dream of revamping the theater where he fell in love with the art of performing. But now, Buster has an even bigger dream: Redshore City, where small-town talents become international superstars.
So, he rounds up the old gang—Rosita, Gunter, Johnny, Meena, Ash and Miss Crawly—and heads out to audition for one of Redshore City’s biggest entertainment producers.
Only somehow, Buster’s big dreams still aren’t quite big enough for Mr. Crystal.
Crystal wants something wild and “out of this world.” But more importantly, he wants something that no other show in Redshore has: legendary rockstar Clay Calloway.
Buster assures Crystal he can do it, so Crystal gives him access to everything he needs—choreographers, set builders, musicians.
There’s just one teeny tiny little problem: Buster doesn’t actually know Clay Calloway. And convincing him to come out of his reclusive retirement might be more difficult than Buster guesses.
When Buster and his friends get to Redshore City, they’re faced with multiple challenges, some of which they must attack on their own and some which require a group effort.
Rosita and Meena learn how to conquer their fears. Johnny learns how to earn respect (and give it in return). Porsha, Mr. Crystal’s daughter, learns about overcoming disappointment. And the entire group realizes that whether someone else thinks they’re “good enough” doesn’t actually matter. If you have passion and a calling for something, keep working at it until you succeed Sing 2 tells us.
As viewers, we also get a sweet, if somewhat sad, lesson about grief. Clay Calloway has been living as a recluse for 15 years since his wife died. And since she inspired all his songs, he hasn’t played or even listened to one since she died. However, Ash encourages Clay, reminding him that his late wife wouldn’t have wanted him to stop playing and stay sad forever. And Clay eventually realizes that the best way to honor her memory is to return to the music that brought them so much joy when she was alive.
Rosita’s husband, who was such a workaholic in the previous film that he didn’t realize how lost and lonely his wife felt, has made a full 180 in this film. He supports his wife’s dreams and helps with the kids so that she can travel to Redshore City. One of Mr. Crystal’s assistants decides to help Moon when Crystal wrongly locks him away. Many of the songs we hear share a message about rising above those who try to bring you down.
Clay’s wife appears next to him as a ghostly apparition in one scene. A girl interprets her own dream to mean that she’ll get a lead role in Buster’s play. Someone says Meena looks like a goddess. A song’s lyrics mention praying. Someone exclaims, “Good heavens!” and “For heaven’s sake!”
A content issue parents may notice that may fly over kids’ heads involves lyrics to several songs. We hear a snippet of Ricky Martin’s hit “She Bangs,” as well as suggestive heavy breathing on a phone in Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
Meena tells Buster that she’s uncomfortable having a kissing scene since she’s never even had a boyfriend. Buster reassures her that he’ll find her a good partner, but then picks a narcissistic actor, who actually manages to make Meena feel even worse about the part.
When Mr. Crystal is awakened in the middle of the night, he climbs out of bed, and it’s implied he is naked since his assistant screams and covers his eyes (we see his fur-covered chest and legs). This same assistant later says he loves Mr. Crystal, but it’s unclear if his adoration is worshipful or romantic in context.
Two couples smooch. There are shots of a male animal’s clothed rear end and hips as he poses. Some dance choreography has “sexy” poses. We see a tiger in his underclothes after someone steals his costume. Meena disguises herself as a male janitor to get past security.
Mr. Crystal threatens Moon with violence nearly every time he sees him (sometimes growling to make his point). He breaks and kicks objects in anger. He even throws Moon off of two very high locations (though Buster manages to escape once and is rescued the second time).
Characters are hurt by bike and car crashes, electric fences, paintball guns and wooden sticks. (Some of these are accidental, others are on purpose.) Johnny throws and breaks his skateboard in frustration. Song lyrics talk about death.
None, but we do hear a few incomplete phrases, such as “what the” and several substitutes, such as “gosh” and “heck.” At one point, someone tells Buster to “go to heck.” There is also quite a bit of name-calling.
Mr. Crystal is an awful person. Besides repeatedly threatening Buster, he is rude to everyone, including his own assistants (one of whom has an almost worshipful adoration of Crystal). Even his own daughter isn’t immune from his abusive behavior: He calls her a “talentless loser” when she gets recast in Buster’s show, among other insults. And to make things even worse, when he cancels the show, he blames Moon for the show’s failure. Then, when it suddenly succeeds, he tries to take credit.
Someone flatulates. People lie. A woman speeds in a car. Someone performs in the street without a license to do so. A narcissistic guy repeatedly gets a girl’s name wrong and gets angry at her for interrupting when she corrects him. Someone cheats Ash out of her hard-earned money. Rosita’s piglets cause chaos at a buffet by climbing on the tables, eating all the food and making a mess. A man lets his ego get the better of him.
Sing 2 is, more or less, what you would expect from a sequel like this one. The goal is the same: to get famous. But the stakes are just a bit higher.
Mr. Crystal, as I mentioned before, is awful. He literally tries to kill Buster Moon twice! But beyond that, parents will find that most of the content we see here is reminiscent of the first film.
To quote Adam Holz’s review of Sing: “Keep dreaming, the movie says. Keep hoping. Never give up, and never give up on your friends. Parents, of course, know that there may be some instances where such starry-eyed counsel is unrealistic. But then again, this is a movie about singing animals, so we probably don’t need to overthink that one.”
As noted above, a few soundtrack selections here might raise an eyebrow for parents familiar with the lyrics. Prince and Ricky Martin are joined by more contemporary artists such as The Weeknd, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande, all of whom have some pretty problematic songs in their catalogs. That said, there’s a sweet U2 rendition that’ll likely have parents smiling, too.
Elsewhere, there’s also a bit of discomfort surrounding Meena’s romantic scene in the musical. She tells Buster she’s not OK kissing someone on stage, and he sort of dismisses her. Granted, he tries to cast someone he thinks she’ll enjoy laying lips on, but the whole affair made me a bit queasy thinking about how many a young starlet has received her first smooch from a total stranger at the behest of adult directors and producers.
Still another surprising issue, and one that Sing 2 deals with quite poignantly, is the discussion of grief. Clay Calloway’s return from a 15-year hermitage is heartbreaking, perhaps especially for parents or grandparents watching who may have lost their partner of many years. And yet, we also watch as Clay takes his first steps in a long time toward the future instead of being anchored to his hurtful past.
So while Sing 2 still “inspires us to hold onto our dreams” and “doesn’t assault us with a theater-full of age-inappropriate material,” it also carries some emotionally heavier content. Still, as the credits roll, your family will likely be smiling … and probably singing, too.
Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.