Illumination’s second talking animals movie of 2016 is best left for just the kids to enjoy.
Sing is an animated musical comedy from Illumination Entertainment that sees an idealistic koala called Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) host a talent show to reverse the fortunes of his dilapidated theatre. The weird and wonderful inhabitants of the town soon flock to Buster’s theatre in the hope of scoring a slice of the bumper $100,000 prize, with a ragtag bunch of unlikely superstars soon forming a talented ensemble.
Unfortunately for all involved, Sing arrives at the tail end of a year filled to the brim with talking animal movies; Pixar delighted us all with Finding Dory, Disney broke new ground in Zootopia and revisited a classic in The Jungle Book, Dreamworks got feisty in Kung Fu Panda 3 and Laika moved us with Kubo and the Two Strings. Sing, much like Illumination’s earlier 2016 effort The Secret Life of Pets, is neither original nor particularly engaging; it’s generic and doesn’t pack the same punch as the multitude of far superior films I mentioned above.
You see, Illumination is just content with regurgitating well-worn archetypes and uninspired clichés to maximise their audience. You’ve got Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), the downtrodden and underappreciated stay-at-home mum; Johnny (Taron Egerton), the thuggish youth with a heart of gold; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk rocker with a broken heart; Meena (Tori Kelly), a shy introvert afraid to put herself out there; and Mike (Seth McFarlane), a sleazy crooner who busks on the sidewalk.
If you feel like you’ve seen this one before, you’d be right. Sing doesn’t break new ground at all – even its soundtrack is uninspired and carefully cultivated to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Taylor Swift (‘Shake It Off’), Carly Rae Jepsen (‘Call Me Maybe’), Katy Perry (‘Firework’), Nicki Minaj (‘Anaconda’) – it’s like listening to a So Fresh CD at the zoo.
Furthermore, Sing fails to make good use of its anthropomorphic animals motif; the world surrounding Buster and his motley crew looks just like our own. It isn’t a patch on the creative and rich world of Zootopia – there is genuinely no reason for the film to be populated with talking animals aside from the added appeal to hyperactive rugrats.
It might sound like I’m being a bit critical of a film that is ultimately not aimed at me – and you’re partially right. At the end of the day, Sing will be smash-hit with kids – the bright colours, funny characters and zippy pacing will keep them glued to the screen for the whole 108 minute runtime, a trait that will no doubt provide dishevelled parents with a splendid respite over the Christmas break. Plonk them down in front of the screen with a jumbo bucket of popcorn to share this Boxing Day and you’re golden.
The Verdict: 5/10
For anyone who yearns for something a little more substantial from family films, Sing does leave a lot to be desired. Granted, the third act comes good in the end with a soaring crescendo, but the narrative still lacks that X-Factor (pun intended) that we regularly see from the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks or Laika.