Illumination Entertainment has failed this year with their box-office hit, yet shameful film, ‘The Secret Life of Pets’. With ‘Sing’, it looks like they may still have some of that charm that has made ‘Despicable Me’, ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax’, and ‘Minions’ animated masterpieces; except the only problem is unlike those films, ‘Sing’ is a clunky mess that hasn’t figured out a way to set up what could be lovable characters that could instantly become action figures and toys to fill up the rooms of children everywhere. (It’s possible this movie is succeeding at the box-office based on Christmas returns, so toys are sure to happen.) If ‘Zootopia’ meshed with the likes of ‘America’s Got Talent’, and ‘American Idol’, we would have ‘Sing’. Despite the title, ‘Sing’ is less of a musical, and more of a comedy in the style of ‘Noises Off!’ and ‘Footlight Frenzy’, wherein everything on stage that could go wrong does, and it’s up to the director/manager/host to keep everything together while the cast/variety of talent deals with problems of their own.
The leading animal in ‘Sing’ is a koala bear named Buster Moon (Voice of Matthew McConaughey), the director/manager/host if you will. He runs a theater in town that looks amazing from the inside and out, yet can’t seem to find an audience for every show being performed there. This is about to lead into some trouble with the bank, which is threatening to tear it down if he doesn’t come up with the finances to support it. This gives him the crazy idea to set up a singing competition where one great singer could win up to a total of $100,000 (It was supposed to be just $10,000 until his assistant, Miss Crawley’s [Voice of director Garth Jennings] never-in-place glass eye adds an extra 0 the flyers).
This attracts many animals, and they all come sing for him and Crawley. He decides to pick a select few to perform in the competition; the main focus being Rosita (Voice of Reese Witherspoon), a pig struggling with the trials of being a mother to plenty of piglets and a housewife to the always overworked Norman (Voice of Nick Offerman), who doesn’t really give her the time of day; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla who is working with his father’s (Voice of Peter Serafinowicz) gang in order to plan heists; Ash (Voice of Scarlett Johansson), a porcupine dealing with being a part of her boyfriend’s (Voice of Beck Bennett) rock group; Mike (Voice of Seth MacFarlane), a mouse who is basically in it to win it. He doesn’t care about anyone else, except money; Meena (Voice of Tori Kelly), a young elephant with a golden singing voice, but massive stage fright; and Gunter (Voice of Nick Kroll), another pig who is set to team up with Rosita.
The musical talent in this film is amazing, as well as the actual show that goes on near the end of the film. This could have been one of the greatest animated films of the year. Sadly, there is also another film consisting of anthropomorphic animals that came out this year called ‘Zootopia’ that was a much better film. I’m not ripping on ‘Sing’ for being the same type of film. I’m just saying that for what it was, ‘Zootopia’ had a lot going for it, a better story, plenty of emotion, and social commentary which was relevant to today. ‘Sing’ doesn’t know what to do with a lot of those elements and tries to be ‘Zootopia’ meets ‘American Idol’ with subplots thrown in to make you sympathize with these characters.
I admit that there were times that I did feel emotion with these characters; the most coming from Johnny and Meena’s subplots. Most of them just feel like total jerks giving each other hell in a way that feels closer to a drama than it does a singing contest. The animation itself is also bright and colorful, giving kids a chance to enjoy its many sprites of color; a great scene involving squid in particular. Some of the jokes are also clever and funny, but are not enough to satisfy the critic in me. I will say that ‘Sing’ is at least better than ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ in the sense that it will have you tapping your toes to each and every song that comes to you.