TUCSON, Ariz. — What "Sing 2" lacks in ambition, it makes up for in execution. Content to stay the course set in 2016 original, the upbeat, family-friendly film follows a similar track to success.
The plan: Cobble together an adorable cast of animal voices by a stacked cast of superstars, plop them all into the constraints of a feel-good underdog plot and have the characters croon snippets of as many songs-of-the-moment as often as possible.
Director Garth Jennings returns for the sequel, keeping the momentum going with confidence and cool. There's little sass or edge to the material, and you can see every plot twist coming from miles away. But that doesn't stop the sweetness from wafting through the theater.
The challenge is to stay earnest rather than hokey, and the film skates elegantly along that path.
Matthew McConaughey returns as Buster Moon, the can-do koala who's driven by dreams that float ever just past his grasp.
Also back are Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, the stay-at-home mom pig, Scarlett Johansson as punk-rock porcupine Ash, Taron Egerton as teen gorilla Johnny, and Nick Kroll as Gunter, a dancing machine swine.
This time around, the plot isn't an "American Idol"-style singing contest, but the efforts to get a musical involving contestants from the show to merge into a lasting career.
Buster contends with Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Cannavale), a wolf who heads an infamous production company that tempts him to sell out his dreams and loyalties. The conflict leads to the tiny portion of drama the milquetoast film has and hints at a bit of a dark, self-serving side of the clean lead character.
However, the worth of "Sing 2" doesn't come in the story. This is a movie you enjoy as though it was a concert because that's what it pretty much is. Hopefully, it won't be another half-decade until the franchise makes its next curtain call.
RATING: 3 stars out of 4.
Viewed in November at Harkins Tucson Spectrum.