Animation Comedy

'Sing' Film Review: A feel-good crowd-pleaser that hits all the right notes

December 21, 2016Ben MK

The concept behind Sing — which revolves around a televised singing competition starring talking animals — is so ingeniously simple, it's hard to believe that it's taken this long for it to be turned into a feature film. Nonetheless, leave it to Illumination Entertainment — the studio responsible for Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets — to finally bring this feel-good premise to the moviegoing masses.

In Sing, Matthew McConaughey voices Buster Moon, a diminutive and cuddly koala bear whose irresistibly cute and furry looks belie the fact that he's also a sharp-minded business entrepreneur, not to mention an ardent lover of musical theater. However, it would appear that not everyone in the bustling, multi-species metropolis that Buster calls home — no, this isn't Zootopia — is as big a fan of toe-tapping musicals as he is; and, as a result, Buster finds his once-grand Moon Theater — a labor of love which he's poured his heart and soul into — floundering.

But don't count Buster out yet, because he has a surefire plan to revitalize his diminishing revenue stream: a singing contest where everyday citizens will have a chance to showcase their hidden vocal talents for all the world to see. There's just one problem, though — for when a couple of extra zeroes mistakenly make their way into the advertised prize amount, Buster not only finds himself overwhelmed with potential contestants; he's also left scrambling to try and scrounge up the extra cash to make up the massive shortfall in the prize money.

And so, the film's plot is set into motion, which sees creatures big and small queue up to prove their worth. Among them, however, five characters stand out: Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a neglected housewife and mother of twenty-five; Johnny (Taron Egerton), the son of a British gangster; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a moody teen with a chip on her shoulder; Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a jazzy street performer; and Meena (Tori Kelly), a shy wallflower. It just so happens that they're a pig, a gorilla, a porcupine, a mouse and an elephant, respectively.

In case it's not readily apparent, the result is a family-friendly crash course in pop music history, as writer/director Garth Jennings and co-director Christophe Lourdelet send viewers on a journey from the 1960s to the present day, thanks to an eclectic soundtrack that features everything from Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." And, surprisingly, this musical approach works, as Sing's varied song selection helps it avoid overstaying its welcome, even though it clocks in at nearly half-an-hour longer than any of Illumination's previous efforts.

Otherwise, Sing more or less delivers exactly what moviegoers have come to expect from CG-animated children's fare, which is to say that while it isn't particularly innovative in the storytelling department — evoking the feeling of the countless other kid-oriented animated films in recent memory — it more than makes up for it with its colorfully inviting visuals, charming sense of humor, and heartwarming center. Still, Sing's biggest highlight is, of course, the music, which is so infectiously fun that you'll find yourself wishing for an encore.

Sing releases December 21st, 2016 from Universal Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some rude humor and mild peril. Its runtime is 1 Hr. 48 Mins.

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