I can almost imagine what the producers of this movie were thinking when they came up with the plot for this animated feature.
“Oooh, everyone loves reality singing competitions, right? And animated features with talking animals are really popular right now, right? So, why don’t we make a movie about a singing competition, but with singing animals instead!”
Well, that is exactly the sort of movie Sing is. Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a struggling theatre-owning koala who decides to hold an American Idol-styled singing competition to save his theatre, which is on the verge of closing down.
The contestants he shortlists include Johnny (Taron Egerton), a mountain gorilla from a criminal family who prefers breaking out into song to breaking out of prison; Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a bored housewife who dreams of a life outside of taking care of her family of 25 piglets; Gunter (Nick Kroll), a flamboyant porcine optimist with a penchant for dancing in skin-tight outfits, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), an arrogant classically-trained musician mouse who thinks he has better musical chops than everyone else; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a talented porcupine girl in a prickly relationship with a snobbish rock musican boyfriend; and Meena (Tori Kelly), a cripplingly shy elephant with an angelic voice.
Together, they learn the importance of being yourself, following your dreams, being humble, and pretty much every other moral lesson that is typically included in this sort of movie. Oh, and they sing a lot too.
From Glee and Pitch Perfect to Susan Boyle’s unlikely rise to pop stardom, Sing’s story is one we’ve seen countless times before on TV and the big screen. Although the movie tries to add a new twist to that well-worn tale by making all its characters animals, the film doesn’t really tread new ground.
With its focus more on character gags featuring singing animals, Sing also suffers in comparison to some of the better films featuring talking animals this year, including the critically acclaimed Zootopia, which utilised its anthropomorphic qualities to touch on social and racial issues.
What it does have is the glorious sound of music. The film apparently features 85 songs throughout its entire 110-minutes – ranging from classic rock songs from David Bowie and The Zombies to modern pop songs by the likes of Carly Rae Jepsen, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry – most of which are actually sung by the main voice cast themselves.
While it’s no surprise to hear the likes of former American Idol contestant Kelly, Witherspoon (who crooned her way to an Oscar on 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line) and Johansson (who has dabbled with a music career before) singing, it was quite surprising to hear how good Seth McFarlane and Taron Edgerton’s vocals are as well.
Despite all its flaws, Sing at least deserves credit for staying true to its title. The story may be predictable and the characters overly-familiar, but all that is forgotten every time someone bursts out into song. It may not be enough to get critics to sing its praises, but if you love music, singing competitions, and talking animals, Sing might just get your groove going.
Director: Garth Jennings
Voice cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll