Directed by Garth Jennings, the man behind The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Sing is the latest animation film from Illumination Entertainment and after the disappointing Secret Life of Pets, I am glad that they are back on track. The voice acting participation by two Oscar winners, Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, as well as greats like Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, and Seth MacFarlane shows how great and appreciated animated films are these days. The story follows Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), an super optimistic koala bear who has been running a theater for 25 years but his business hasn’t been booming for quite some time. He decides to do a singing competition but unfortunately, his assistant Ms. Crawly makes posters not offering $1,000 but $100,000. Which brings the talent, but also brings a swath of issues for two of them really need that money.
This is one of those animated films where people from all age groups can appreciate. There are old songs for adults, new songs for teenagers and basically something for every age. Naturally, the pop songs dominate, but for those who like something old school Mike (Seth MacFarlane) mostly does Jazz with his saxophone or Rat Pack era songs like “My Way.” Also, there is scattered rock or pop/rock music here and there. The most notable song choice would be Johnny (Taron Egerton) singing “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John and Meena (Tori Kelly) singing “Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. The very small ones will not only appreciate the music, but will also enjoy the colorful fun animals that occupy this world. It’s almost like a music event watching this film, after every contestant, the audience would clap and cheer and I felt like I was in the movie.
In terms of story telling, there isn’t enough of it for each character to develop. Meena and Johnny are really the only two characters who are given real emotional grounding so their highs and lows matter to you. Meena seems to not have a father and is being raised by her mother’s family, she is shy to the point of anxiety attacks and seems to be the only introvert in an extroverted family. One which fully supports her singing, but with her grandfather being so aggressive about her pursuing her talent, you can see he only makes things worse. Then with Johnny, he is another case of a missing parent. In his case, it is his mom but with his dad around, and his dad’s criminal gang being sort of parental units, you see he is making it. Problem is, his dad has a vision and plans for Johnny which he doesn’t necessarily want. So when he goes against the grain, as seen in the trailer, and gets disowned, it leaves him with no one really. His father’s friends came with his dad and without him, we watch a heartbroken Johnny try to just figure out what life can be like without his dad. The plot also tries to make Mike a villain but he doesn’t necessarily do anything that falls under that category. We don’t explore the stress Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) has from taking care of 25 piglets nor dealing with a unfulfilling marriage. Hence why Buster, despite being the lead, never gets a real emotional response out of you but the one thing which could redeem him is that he is trying to make his dad’s hard work pay off. The problem is with this, it more told to us than shown. Even then, it isn’t like we see his dad struggle or even Buster struggle alongside him.
Overall, I did enjoy this movie a lot and I do recommend checking it out once it hits theaters next week. There are some emotionally great moments, with some great music and characters, and a very cute koala bear. Definitely one of the better animation films of the year.
SuperSam Rating: 7.5/10.