If there’s one thing that animation has always done well in is bringing worlds of anthropomorphic animals to life. What this means is that while the inhabitants of the world are animals, they will act and live like people. Disney is probably the best example as they have created Robin Hood, Chicken Little, and most recently, the acclaimed Zootopia. All of these movies have no humans and that all of their characters are animals with different personalities. What animation can also do with this concept is to let the characters take on their animal-like traits. That is what I enjoyed about Zootopia; it took those animal instincts and created a story about prejudice.
I guess that at the same time, Illumination Entertainment had their own anthropomorphic animal movie in the works. Illumination has had some big hits like Despicable Me, The Minions, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. While the movies are fine, their marketing is very aggressive and tends to do well at the box office. In the case of Sing, that too was marketed like crazy with the hopes that families would come out and see it for the holidays. Despite going up against Rogue One, perhaps Sing does have some voice.
Theater owner koala Buster Moon (played by Matthew McConaughey) has been obsessed with the performing arts ever since his father took him to a show there. He may be the owner of his cherished theater, but it is also falling on hard times where he’s only produced flop after flop. The place is also in need of major repair. As a last effort, Buster plans for a singing competition with a cash prize for the winner. He sets the prize for a $1000, but his senile assistant accidently makes it $100,000. Before the advertisements can be checked, the word is spread and nearly the entire town shows up to audition.
After a lengthy scene of various songs sung, Buster makes his picks. First is pig Rosita (played by Reese Witherspoon) is a mother of twenty-five and is neglected by her husband. Next is mouse Mike (played by Seth MacFarlane) who is arrogant and has gambling issues. Then we have punk rocker porcupine Ash (played by Scarlett Johansson) who left her boyfriend when she caught him cheating. Then we have gorilla Johnny (played by Taron Egerton) who is the son of a mobster. Finally, we have elephant Meena (played by Tori Kelly) who has a great voice, but has severe stage fright.
I’ll say that right away, this is a large jukebox musical with songs of several genres from the fourties till now. You’d think that songs from Billie Holiday to Lady Ga Ga would seem odd to set to a musical, but the story of Sing manages to put them in the right spot. Without spoiling it, I’ll say the that final show is a lot of fun and is a great finale. It took advantage of it’s talented cast and brought out their strongest moments as singers.
It sounds like a great movie right? Well…when it’s not a musical, it seems to loose steam when the singing stops. The character that gets the most focus is Buster, who has a genuinely touching arc. Seth MacFarlane and Taron Egerton’s charecters are fun to sit through, but the others like Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, nor Tori Kelly are that interesting. Their singing is still good, but their story elements wither feel rushed or don’t get enough time. Perhaps if one was cut, things might have flowed better. This is one movie I would have liked to see an extended edition of.
I’ll give this three and a half koalas out of five. I’d say that while kids will probably get a lot out of the movie, grownups may end up liking the soundtrack a bit more. Perhaps you too will sing along. So consider your musical taste and see if this is palatable.