Nutshell: A cliche’d but entertaining story is given a boost by game voice actors and a sweetly humorous plot. A few notes are a bit off-key, but by the end Sing makes beautiful music nonetheless. Grade: A-
“Wonder and magic don’t come easy.”
Story: A down on his luck theater owner named Buster Moon gambles on one last show to save his beloved building from foreclosure; a singing competition. So a group of finalists all gather to try to win the prize…and did I mention everyone’s an adorable animal? Literally?
Genre I’d put it in: Cute But Faintly Offputting Character Driven Animated Funtimes
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Orignal: Original, though the well-worn clichés are not.
Gotta say: I adored the singing, animation, and overall camaraderie of the characters in Sing. Even the ol’ kiddie film cliches feel light as a feather in this bubbly, fast-paced tale. But I couldn’t lock, stock, and barrel this one. Why? Because I can’t seem to connect with the guy we’re supposed to be rooting for. Buster (Matthew McConaughey, in tip-top vocal form) runs a theater thisclose to falling around everyone’s ears, and still tries to keep things going regardless of the hazardous conditions. Maybe it’s just because I’m old (and crotchety), but while Buster’s heart is in the right place, mine wasn’t with him. Perhaps if he was less oblivious of the dangers, or if the theater was just under water financially instead of also falling apart, I’d have felt more for him. But…
Same goes for the full-of-himself singer Mike (voiced by a smooth talking – and singing – Seth MacFarlane), a suave, money-hungry city mouse that’s simply too full of himself. Plus, after all of Mike’s misadventures with money, like gambling, overspending, and taking out too much credit? There’s no consequences. Sure, he’s chased by the Russian bear mob – a subplot that needlessly bleeds into the main story – but his character never grows from the experience. Fine for adults, as we see idiots that never learn from their mistakes every day. But for kids, it’s not a great message. So it gave me the ickies.
Other than those two ha-rumphs? Sing is absolutely stunning. From the opening scene, where sheep diva Nana Noodleman (voiced by Jennifer Hudson) sings “Golden Slumbers” with such perfection I still get chills, to shy elephant Meena (the incredibly talented Tori Kelly) belting “Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing” at the finale, there’s a lot to love. Both kids and adults will enjoy the songs, which span decades of music history. Taylor Swift, Frank Sinatra, Elton John, Sam Smith, Leonard Cohen (RIP) and Sir Mix-a-Lot are only a small sample of the singers whose hits are covered here.
And the voice cast are more than up to the task. Beyond those I’ve already mentioned, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) voices Johnny, a teenage gorilla who doesn’t want to go into the family burglary business. Edgerton’s versions of “Stay With Me” and “I’m Still Standing” are incredible. I’m glad he’s gotten the chance to show off his impressive pipes. And my beloved Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) voices the older Nana Noodleman, and hearing Saunders do posh is always a treat. So is Reese Witherspoon as Rosita; overworked, underappreciated housewife and mother of 25 piglets. Rosita’s ingenuity and drive, while still being a loving mom and wife, is superhero caliber. I would have gotten exhausted just watching her scenes, but the music kept me bouncing.
So go see Sing with the kids. Or just grab some friends and go. Understand that all the themes here may not be entirely on point, but it sure sounds freakin’ fantastic.
#Protip: That earworm-worthy song sung by those five adorable…squirrels? Foxes? Squirrelfoxes? Is called “Kira Kira Killer” by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu. You’re welcome.