Friday, December 30, 2016
I would be a little alarmed at the number of adults at a 10:15 am screening of what is basically a kids movie, except for the fact that the three of us who went to see it were also all adults. "Sing" delivers pretty much what it promises in all the promotional material. This is a film cobbled together around the premise of animals singing in an "Idol/Voice/X-Factor" style competition. If you like those sorts of reality competition shows, than this is likely to please you. If you just like anthropomorphized animals in cartoon form, while this should satisfy you as well.
Buster Moon is a koala bear who falls in love with the theater as a kid. Every choir singer, high school actor, or member of the glee club can identify with that. If you did dramatic interp on the speech team, worked as a stage hand on a high school play production, or you were an aspiring rock singer with a group of your friends forming a band, you have the bug. It is an infection that makes live performance so much fun and invigorating that you can get over your self consciousness and be willing to stand in front of an audience and potentially look foolish, just on the off chance that someone else might enjoy it. "Sing" is all about that idea. While there is a little bit of that "can do" theme in the film and story, most of what makes up the movie is a cartoon version of performance.
I've got nothing against cartoons at all. I love animated movies and Bugs and Daffy filled my childhood with beloved memories. I never really looked to cartoons to give me life lessons. So the thinness of the theme in this film does not really bother me because it is really just there to help make the running time worthwhile. The story is very episodic with Buster as a Brooks-like producer trying to put together the successful show that has eluded him. His plot-line involve financial shenanigans and theatrical mishaps. Rosita is a pig mama to bacon factory of piglets, she also longs to sing. Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon reunite from the film "Mud" to voice Buster and Rosita. Rosita and her family have all the Rube Goldberg devices from a Road Runner cartoon in their segments of the story. There is also a plot about gamblers after a cheating card player and a shy talent who is literally the elephant in the room. Kids will laugh at the fart jokes and adults will enjoy sampling the wide range of music performances in the film.
This movie comes from the same studio that brought us "Despicable Me" and it's sequel, as well as the "Minions" movie. I thought last year's "Minions" was mostly an excuse to string together pop hits and fill the movie with something more interesting than the story. "Sing" solves that problem by making all the pop hits be the story and therefore freeing us the obligation to shoehorn all the songs into the movie. I don't know that the personalities of the characters matter that much. So many voice actors get used just for atmosphere and not for any other reason. The singers are all fine but no performance stood out in a way that would make it a signature moment in the film.
The movie is lite and entertaining enough for the holiday season. Kids home for the Christmas Vacation will be able to see this with parents who will not hate watching the "let's put on a show" attitude of the characters. No one is going to have this on their list of greatest animated movies ever, but it combines the animal world of a film like "Zootopia" with singing performances that are entertaining enough for the short time that each one of them runs.