Directed by Garth Jennings.
Featuring the voice talents of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, Taron Egerton, Peter Serafinowicz, Tori Kelly, Garth Jennings, Rhea Perlman, Nick Kroll, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Saunders, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones, and Adam Buxton.
Set in a world of anthropomorphic animals, a failing theatre owner attempts to turn things around by hosting a singing/talent competition.
In a part of a nameless city of a world of anthropomorphic animals that closely resembles ours, a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a failing theatre impresario but is also an optimistic con-artist (koala, con; I see what you did there Illumination Entertainment). After a charming introduction of Buster skirting responsibility by not paying his theatre techies (our hero), the film then introduces us to a plethora of other characters. A bored housewife pig mother of 25 piglets named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a teenage rocking pseudo-punk porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a tiny arrogant jazz-playing Frank Sinatra-style singing mouse named Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a cockney-accented gorilla named Johnny (Taron Egerton) who is coerced into a life of crime by his father/gang leader known as Big Daddy (Peter Serafinowicz), and a shy reclusive teenage elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly).
Why are we introduced to these characters? It’s because Buster, after unsuccessfully securing a grant from his lay-about best friend’s rich grandmother, decides to host an X-Factor-style talent show, where one lucky contestant has a chance to win the falsely advertised $100,000 reward (the prize was originally set for $1000 but Buster’s elderly glass-eyed iguana secretary named Ms Crawley (Garth Jennings) inadvertently adds a few extra 0’s to the flyers, and through an implausible mishap all are blown out of the window and throughout the city, making the whole misunderstanding irreversible), and it’s clear from the excessive advertising that these will be the main participants taking part in the competition.
Buster’s competition attracts huge interest, passionate entertainers, and a whole host of trouble! The film then treats the audience to a montage of popular songs from the 90s through to the present-day. Because of the song’s recognisability, it’s difficult to not toe-tap along and feel the pang of nostalgia. Unfortunately, this is the film’s only strength. The entertainers and their problems are too familiar, too simplified, and too easily resolved that the much of the enjoyment from watching this film derives from these pop songs.
Each protagonist has an established character arc and easily defined catalysts (there is actually only a sub-antagonist in Mike’s storyline and a kind of one with the bank llama named Judith (Rhea Perlman) threatening to foreclose Buster’s theatre). Such simplicity is insulting for audiences, especially in a post-Zootopia world. Whenever a character is challenged they overcome their strife with ease, and are given obligatory resolutions; nothing is earned. Further detriment is the film’s struggle to juggle all plot threads and to give them each enough screentime to discuss their issues.
The humour in this film is equally insulting. As seen from the trailer there is a dancing hyper-optimistic German-accented pig named Gunter (Nick Kroll) who has no problems. The joke? He has a funny accent. That’s it. There are also these obsessive giggling Japanese red pandas that pop-up during rehearsals to do a little dance number, only to be chased away by Buster. The joke? They have funny accents. Erm… satire?
When the third act rolls around many plot threads should tie up, and they do. It’s a kids film after all, and Sing is no exception. Only it’s to the detriment of character motivations and the film thus presents an obligatory third act finale.
Throughout Sing, you’ll be toe-tapping along to the catchy pop songs, but there’ll be a niggling thought at the back of your mind saying, “there’s nothing to this film,” and that thought will be right. Sing is as safe, as banal, and as predictable as one would expect. It’s also the perfect outing from the studio that brought us the insufferable Minions. Again, funny because of silly accents.
Highlights of this film? The voice acting on display is phenomenal (as one would expect from the talented cast), director Garth Jennings has moments of visual flair (the sweeping shots through the city in the opening scene shows promise), and Mike is entertaining to watch. Nonetheless, they cannot mask the banality of this passable film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★