Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sing review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
Buster Moon (left) and Karen Crawly setting up the show in Sing

            Not only did we get two Disney animated films and two DreamWorks animated films this year, but now we got a double-dose of Minion-driven Illumination fun. There was The Secret Life of Pets this summer and just in time for Christmas, we have Sing.
            On the surface, we’ve seen this kind of set-up countless times, a theater going out of business and the manager puts together a big show to save it. Most notably the premise of this movie is reminiscent of Hairspray and the 2011 Muppets movie, but thanks to some bouncy, colorful animation, talented voice acting, and a good balance between humor and heart, it makes for some superb family entertainment.
            Set in an anthropomorphic city (that’s twice this year), the film follows an optimistic koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey-Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, Kubo and the Two Strings), who has been interested in show business, ever since he was a child, when his father took him to his first music show. Buster becomes the owner of a music theater that is going through some rough financial issues.
None of Buster’s shows have been successful and the theater is at risk of being repossessed. So, what he does to get out of this sticky situation is make his next show a singing competition, with a grand prize of $100,000.
Once the news is heard about the competition, several singing enthusiasts audition including a mother pig to 25 piglets named, Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon-Legally Blonde, Monsters VS Aliens, Wild), a white crooning mouse named Mike (voiced by Seth MacFarlane-Family Guy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Ted) who is a huge gambler, a hard-rocking porcupine named Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson-The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie, Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Jungle Book (2016)), a German accented pig named Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll-Kroll Show, Parks and Recreation, Sausage Party), a shy teenage elephant named Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly-American Idol, The Voice) with a beautiful singing voice but severe stage fright, and a Cockney-accented gorilla named Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton-Kingsman: The Secret Service, Legend, Eddie the Eagle) who dreams of becoming a singer but has a misunderstood father who wants him to follow him in his criminal footsteps.
With the help of his business partner and Suffolk sheep named Eddie Noodleman (voiced by John C. Reilly-Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Wreck-It Ralph, Guardians of the Galaxy) and assistant, elderly green iguana named Karen Crawly (voiced by Garth Jennings-The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow), Buster will do whatever it takes to save his theater and make stars out of his contestants.
Overall, Sing is a funny and inspirational animated film that is sure to make you cheer in the theater. All the characters have unique personalities, anyone can relate to them no matter how young or old you are, and they leave you with a happy feeling when they succeed.
I don’t think this film stands as tall as Zootopia in terms of anthropomorphic suburbia animated films because, well, let’s face it, Zootopia knocked it out of the park with the concept. But with that said, Sing is still a strong film, though at times the script feels it’s trying the hardest to keep the little kids entertained.
While there’s plenty of jokes that get a good laugh, there are some that feel like filler just for the sake of getting the kids to laugh maniacally. You got to get those fart jokes and butt comments in there, but can we get more variety?
Don’t worry, the awkward, childish jokes don’t destroy the movie, there’s plenty of legit laughs and visual imagination to keep the adults entertained. What truly steals the show is the heart and characters of the movie.
You care about these characters and want to see them win the competition, to me, I felt the most for Buster, Johnny, and Meena. Like Buster, I’m a huge enthusiast for theater and entertainment (despite a slight difference in what I’m talking about), I appreciate that they didn’t make him out like a jerk, sure he has his selfish moments but he wants his contestants to succeed and become stars, he’s a great motivator and he delivers a beautiful message about not letting fear stop you from doing the things you love.
Johnny wants to pursue his dreams but he also doesn’t want to disappoint his father, it’s a similar relationship I got out of the Disney Tarzan movie. Despite his father being a criminal, they do not make him out as the villain of the film, but rather a misunderstood character who doesn’t want his son to fail.
Meena is easily relatable if you’ve ever had stage fright in your life, and when Buster motivates her to sing is downright touching. Not to mention her singing voice makes me want to get the soundtrack.
I don’t think this film stands as tall as the first two Despicable Me movies or The Secret Life of Pets, but I consider it a welcome addition to the Illumination Entertainment library. It’s funny, sweet, and leaves you with a happy feeling, worth taking the kids to or just seeing it for yourself, I can guarantee you’ll be tapping your foot to it.

A little side note, Seth MacFarlane in a kids’ movie is bizarre but he nails it, despite his character constantly making me think of Peter Griffin or Ted. It shows that even someone mostly known for his mature work can put just as much effort into something family-friendly, and I’m looking forward to hearing Trey Parker in Despicable Me 3 next summer.

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