Illumination have made a massive mark on animation with mega hits like Despicable Me and The Secret Life Of Pets, so the latest non sequel Sing has a lot to live up to (particularly after the huge financial success of The Secret Life Of Pets earlier this year) While the previews didn’t give too much away from the basic plot, Sing reveals a well crafted story with high class animation fueled by an eclectic soundtrack that will have something for everyone’s tastes. Illumination’s last movie pandered only to children, fortunately Sing is injected with enough adult humour and throwback references to keep the whole family entertained.
Sing revolves around the character of Buster Moon, a koala voiced by Matthew McConaughey, who lives in a humanimal city and owns a theatre. When he runs into financial trouble he devises a plan to restore the theatre to its former glory with a talent competition and thanks to a clerical error with Moon’s hilarious assistant Miss Crawly. an accidental prize of $100,000.00.
The rest of the contestants are made up of a pig housewife voiced by Reese Witherspoon, Meena an extremely shy elephant voiced by Tori Kelly, Mike a wise talking mouse voiced by Seth MacFarlane, Ash a lovestuck teen voiced by Scarlett Johansson, Gunter a flamboyant pig with an accent voiced by Nick Kroll and a gangster gorilla in training Johnny voiced by Taron Egerton. While we do get to spend a bit of time with these characters, they could have had less and focused solidly on just a few to get the balance just right. Don’t get me wrong each of these characters brought something different to the story but with a family movie running time, it wasn’t enough to fully invest in all of the characters and caring about what happens to them.
Moon however does escape this fate as the character with the most screen time, his plight to save his theatre and produce a quality show and live up to father’s memory is well played out and the charaacter has enough charm and wit to carry the story. Other supporting characters of note are Moon’s chilled out sheep friend/investor Eddie voiced by John C Reilly and credit to the scene stealer Nanna voiced by Jennifer Saunders who helps lift things in the middle when things are looking bleak. The most laughs come from Moon’s puns as well as Miss Crawley and the glass eye gag that never gets old.
The music is an eclectic blend of recent pop hits like Shake It Off from Taylor Swift and Firework from Katy Perry, to 80’s rock ballads with some heavy metal (child appropriate of course) that when combined with hilariously animated animals will make a very shareable YouTube video. Queue the mini foxes who only sing K-Pop and dress like they are from harajuku (seriously it is a spin off that we can get behind!)
Surprisingly the story starts off with the typical tropes, theatre going out of business, owner comes up with some big delusional idea to try and save it while fending off the bank who is trying to repossess the building and previous employees who haven’t been paid. What makes this one different is a plot twist that completely devastates Moon and challenges his dedication to his family and dreams. It is not typical for a kids movie to head down this road and it does it so well and unexpectedly that it works within the confines of the story.
While Sing may face a lot of boxing day competition with the likes of Moana from Disney and the sequel from Red Dog, it holds a worthy place in animation films of 2016 and is well worth your time and cinema dollars if these movies are your forte. The star studded cast bring the characters and animals to life and create a community (unfortunately not one that we ever find out the name of!) for viewers to fall in love with.
Overall Sing delivers on its promise of a star studded soundtrack with loveable anthromorphic characters combined with a well paced story and soundtrack to match. Kids will love the wide variety of animals and the slapstick comedy littered throughout this film, adults will enjoy the wink wink moments and below the belt humour with the eclectic soundtrack that will appeal to any taste. The charming cast and toe-tapping performances showcase a different side of Illumination’s work.
Sing opens in cinemas on Boxing Day
Review by Alaisdair Leith