Monday, January 2, 2017

Movie Review: "Sing" (2016)

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Director: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

In order to save his failing theater, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) decides to hold a singing competition. A typo on the flyer, however, lists the prize money as $100,000 instead of the intended $1,000, and though it sure brings in the contestants, it is far more money than he can actually cover. 

"Sing" is an animated film from Illumination Studios, which brought us other movies like "Despicable Me" and "The Secret Life of Pets." It boasts the voice talents of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, and John C. Reilly, to name a few. The story revolves around a koala named Buster Moon, who is desperate to save his dying theater. His solution is to create a singing competition, yes, another singing competition. Unfortunately, his elderly secretary Miss Crawly, voiced by director Garth Jennings himself, makes a typo on the flyers, turning his $1,000 prize to a $100,000 prize. These flyers are promptly blown out the window by her office fan. Now, the contest meant to save his theater could ultimately sink it if he can't find some form of sponsorship to cover the costs.

"Sing" doesn't have a very deep plot. It's mainly about the characters, with an underlying message of 'never being afraid to live and pursue your dreams.' While this is completely admirable, it's really nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking, but hey, we won't fault the film for this. What "Sing" is really about, if you couldn't already tell by the title, is music. It's like an animated version of "Glee" where anthropomorphic animals sing covers of a bunch of chart topping pop songs by the likes of Taylor Swift, Kanye West, and Katy Perry, to old school ditties by Frank Sinatra and Leonard Cohen, to rock numbers by Christopher Cross and Paul McCartney. The last act is really where "Sing" shines as all of the members of this ragtag group of finalists come together to perform their songs in an epic finale.

There are numerous little one-off gags simply meant to fill screen time in between those songs, like the fact that Miss Crawly constantly loses one of her eyes, or the fact that she can never bring a cup of coffee to Moon the way it's meant to be prepared. Most of these gags are super silly and don't add anything to the plot. Each of the characters has their own arc. Rosita, voiced by Witherspoon, is the underappreciated house wife who must learn to be bold at let her freak flag fly. Ash, voiced by Johansson, is the angsty teen who must break away from the oppression of her overbearing boyfriend/band mate who holds her back. Johnny, voiced by Egerton, is the son of a criminal desperately seeks his dad's approval while not following in his footsteps. Mike, voiced by MacFarlane, is a streetwise hustler who must learn that there is more to life than money and outward appearance. A shy super-talent named Meena, voice by Kelly, must be bold and brave enough to let her true talent shine. Without the music that binds them all together and fills the movie from minute 1 to minute 108, everything in between is formulaic and mostly forgettable. It's a string of random stories brought together by one competition, and without it, their paths would have never met.

That being said, there are a few laughs here and there throughout the entirety of "Sing," though like we mentioned, many of the reoccurring gags fall completely flat, like the fox girl group that doesn't speak English and keeps coming back to rehearsals because they don't understand they didn't get chosen for the show. Children will laugh at these goofy moments, they will laugh at the various lazy fart jokes and will marvel at the bright colors and cutesy animals that fill the screen, but some adults may have a tough time with this one. Luckily, the singing is just enough to keep audiences entertained provided you like the music being sung. Not Illumination's best kids movie, but definitely not their worst (we're looking at you, "Hop").

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 69%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?