From the studio that brought us Despicable Me and The Minions comes a jukebox musical set in a world where animals wear clothes, have jobs, and harbour dreams of careers in entertainment. Featuring more celebrity voice talent than you can shake a stick at, Illumination Entertainment’s Sing is essentially a pop compilation album set to terrific, colourful animation.
Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is a koala who fell in love with musical theatre at age 6. He grows up to own a theatre which, due to a string of unsuccessful shows, is falling apart and falling behind on its payments. Crew are chasing him for payment for work on previous shows, and his theatre is on the brink of being repossessed by Judith the llama, the banker who’s been lending him money. Not easily deterred, Buster decides that the only way to save his beloved theatre is to put on a good old fashioned singing competition. A mishap by his long-time assistant causes the flyers to declare that the prize is $100,000, which is exactly $99,000 more than Buster has.
The list of voice talent is impressive, featuring Scarlett Johansson, John C Reilly, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Saunders, Seth MacFarlane and Jennifer Hudson to name just a few, and it’s a slick animation that will keep the kids engaged and adults tapping their toes, and singing along to pop hits. McConaughey’s voice possesses a unique combination of laid-back surfer dude and sleazy salesman, which is perfect for the koala whose optimism and dreaminess pushes him to bite off more than he can chew (alas, no singing by McConaughey).
Storytelling isn’t a strong point of the film, nor does it seem to be much of a concern. The fun comes from the visual gags and the sing-a-long moments, as pop hit after pop hit is covered. This film will inevitably draw comparisons to Disney’s Zootopia, but while that movie made the multi-species society an integral part of the plot, one gets the impression that the only reason that Sing is populated entirely by animals is simply because they’re cute, and it enables some good visual gags. The film also has some nice lessons about good sportsmanship, following your dreams and not giving up, even when it seems like the odds are against you.
With a soundtrack full of upbeat pop hits (Tay Tay’s “Shake it Off” being a highlight), wonderful animation, A-list voice cast and message about optimism, you can’t help get down to this film’s sick beat!
Image: Paramount Pictures