Cinema Dispatch: Sing 2

Sing 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

Was anyone expecting the first Sing to be anything more than cloying and treacly?  I mean it’s not like Illumination has a great track record for this kind of thing, especially with those toothless Seuss adaptations, but they somehow pulled it off with that movie which was sweet, sincere, and my favorite animated movie the year it came out!  The moment that it was over though, I knew that a sequel was coming and that it was probably going to be a bad idea.  The first one worked as its own story, so trying to fit another one on top of it seemed like typical sequel folly and an obvious attempt at a cash grab.  Then again, it’s not like I was expecting anything out of the first one and it managed to surprise me, so why not the sequel as well?  Can this movie capture the magic of the first film and give us the rare animated sequel that is just as satisfying as the first one, or should we just be glad that we got a good movie in the first place and write this one off as a mere victory lap from Illumination?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film, the Moon Theater is back and better than ever!  The all-star cast of Meena, Johnny, Rosita, and Gunter (Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, and Nick Kroll) are living their dreams and selling out shows every night; all of which should make Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who owns the theater very happy, right?  I mean that’s kind of the dream that they were all striving for in the first one!  Well… no.  Apparently, they all want to go to the Sing universe equivalent of Las Vegas and perform shows there; presumably next to furry versions of Blue Man Group and Carrot Top.  After a talent scout (Chelsea Peretti) brushes them off, Buster drags his cast as well as Ash (Scarlett Johansson) to the big city to prove that scout wrong and appeal to the biggest producer in the city; Jimmy Crystal (Bobby Carnavale).  Through some high-level schmoozing and a white lie here and there, he agrees to give them a shot; albeit it with quite a few strings attached.  They have three weeks to throw together a lavish Broadway-style show from scratch, they have to include Crystal’s daughter Porsha (Halsey) in some way, and they need to find rock legend Clay Calloway (Bono) so he can be a part of the show.  That last one, in particular, is going to be difficult as no one has seen or heard from him in fifteen years, but if Buster says he can get him, then by Jove, he’s gonna get him!  Can the crew pull off yet another amazing show, even with the added pressures of a bigger production and an overbearing executive?  What new challenges will our heroes face on their latest venture, and is this perhaps the end of the road for them?  I mean it’s not like Buster has a habit of getting in over his head, right?  Surely he knows what he’s doing!

“I don’t know, can we make it ten percent more heartfelt?  Which one of these dials adds more heart?”
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Cinema Dispatch: Isn’t It Romantic

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Isn’t it Romantic and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson

This review is going up PRETTY darn late considering it’s been out for over three weeks now, but I have a VERY good reason for taking my time with it!  Okay, maybe not a GOOD reason, but the truth is that I got a serious case of writers block thinking about this movie.  Yeah, the mid-February release is the one that locked up my brain for a lot longer than I’d care to admit.  How could that be!?  In the year that already brought us Glass and Serenity, THIS is the one I had trouble wrapping my head around!?  Could it be that this is a multi-layered and nuanced examination of relationships and the media surrounding them, or is it just kind of… meh, but in ways that aren’t particularly interesting to write about?  Let’s find out!!

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a young woman struggling to make it in the big city and has abandoned love to focus on her career which isn’t going to great either because she’s a smart and overly competent woman who isn’t taken seriously at the workplace.  Her best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) has a crush on her, her girlfriend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) is a bit quirky but always encouraging, and the new hotshot with a million dollar smile Blake (Liam Hemsowrth) is ignoring her ideas to his own detriment because she has some brilliant plans for his next project.  Sounds a bit clichéd if you ask me, even the part about Natalie being cynical about love and calling out other Romantic Comedies for being unrealistic, but after suffering a concussion in a WACKY mugging scene, she wakes up and finds herself in a ROMANTIC COMEDYTM where everyone is a model, the colors are boosted up to eleven, and people will break out into song occasionally.  Natalie may be fully aware that she’s stuck in a Meg Ryan movie by way of Baz Luhrmann, but the question is how the heck does she get out of here?  Is this Back to the Future rules where she has to recreate the incident that got her there, or is this Groundhog Day rules where she has to fulfil some sort of destiny before she’s allowed to leave?  Well she’s gonna have to try both at least, and when the first one doesn’t work out she starts to pursue the hunk-tastic Blake because of course that’s who she’ll end up with in these kind of stories and starts going to the motions as best as she can; which includes living in her overpriced apartment, starring in makeover montages, and even having an offensive gay best friend stereotype named Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) who lives next door and always pops up whenever he’s needed!  Can Natalie survive this nightmare of high fashion, shallow problems, and unrealistic romance long enough to get back to her normal life of muted colors and an unfulfilling work environment?  Will Blake be the key to her escape, or is there something ELSE she should be looking for instead?  Doesn’t this feel a bit like a chicken and egg situation where figuring out if the cliché is more clichéd than the critique on the cliché?

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“I REJECT YOUR REALITY AND SUBSTITUTE IT WITH MY OWN!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Sing

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Sing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Garth Jennings

It seems that Illumination’s business model is to just hammer us over and over again with constant advertisements and marketing pushes for whatever movie that will soon (and not so soon) be hitting theaters.  We see it with The Minions invading everything from ironic T-shirts to toilet brushes, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who got REAL sick of those Secret Life of Pets trailers about four months before the damn movie came out.  At least with Sing, Illumination had a decent enough premise on its hand and the trailers only got better as time went on. Still, that’s the same strategy that Suicide Squad had, and while I didn’t HATE it, the trailers were clearly selling a film that the ACTUAL movie couldn’t live up to.  Will that be the case here with Illuminations latest effort to take over the world with marketable CG characters, or is there something genuinely great here from a studio that’s only made fluff so far?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is rather simple as it’s about a theater owning koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who gets desperate enough to rip off American Idol and naturally becomes the talk of the town once he holds open auditions.  Our heroes are a gorilla with daddy issues named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who’s right out of the Marge Simpson School of quiet desperation, a shy but talented elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a too cool for school porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s relationship with her boyfriend is being strained by this competition.  I guess I should also mention Mike the Mouse (Seth MacFarlane), but calling him a hero is a bit of a stretch as he’s the one who REALLY wants to win by any means necessary.  Of course, noting goes quite as well as it should, what with Buster’s finances in total disarray and his talent dealing with their own problems at home that threaten to derail this singing competition as much as Buster’s inability to keep the lights on.  Will this competition be exactly what Buster needs to save his theater and what everyone else needs to change their lives for the better?  What kind of shenanigans does Mike have up his tiny sleeves that can cause big problems for everyone else?  Is anyone else feeling a distinct lack of Billy Joel in this movie filled with so many oldies!?

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“We didn’t start the fire!  It was always burning since the world’s been turning!!”

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