Directed By Garth Jennings Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton Film Review by Jack Bottomley
Isn’t it lovely to be surprised? Now when we say that, we don’t mean the Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 or a big jump scare, we are talking about being genuinely caught off guard by a movie and for the better. Over the years most can recall a long list of films they have been disappointed by but many do not quite as easily recall a list of movies that were far better than they ever expected. Well Sing, the newest animated family film from Illumination Entertainment (the Despicable Me movies and The Secret Life of Pets), certainly is one such film.
Promoted by the trailers as “X-Factor with animals”, hopes were not especially high for what looked like a ho-hum cash-in on people’s unfathomable love of TV talent shows. Thankfully, this could not be further from the case, as Sing is a brilliant and rather sweet film that has far more too it than singing animals. The film focuses on Koala Bear theatre owner Buster (Matthew McConaughey) who aspires to put on the big money shows that his little old school theatre deserves. However his ambition is constantly challenged by lacking business, until one day he decides to put on a singing contest show with a cash prize. However when a typo puts a few extra 0’s on the prize and many events spiral out of control, this show could end up being one gamble too far for the owner.
Sing lives up to its title with a chock-a-block array of musical numbers but the songs are appropriate to the story and the narrative itself offers more than punk rock porcupines and singing elephants (though it has those too). At heart, this is a film about not allowing tradition to perish and to ensure its survival by marrying the old school with the new, as opposed to letting it die out completely. This is a nice little film about motivation and the shock and awe old-fashioned institutions still have to offer new audiences.
The film actually has a lot in common with James Bobin’s equally lovely 2011 reboot The Muppets and like that film says a lot about dreaming big and saving tradition in the process. As well as this, there is a comment about loving your art not just for the monetary gain but because you enjoy it – something these so called “talent shows” could learn a lot from. Yes there are some broad moments of comedy that don’t quite nail it, and yes you know where the story is heading, this is indeed not as layered as Disney’s Zootropolis but it doesn’t matter as Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) offers such a tale of constant goodwill that you are always on side and having loads of fun.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for Sing above.
The visuals are colourful and effective and the voice cast feels passionately invested, with McConaughey excelling as the lead, in the rootable and well-intentioned Buster. However there is a great supporting cast too, including Reese Witherspoon as the likable and devoted wife/mother Pig Rosita, Seth MacFarlane as the cocky/street-smart Sinatra-like mouse Mike, Tori Kelly as the shy but hugely talented elephant Meena and Taron Egerton as the kind hearted Gorilla Johnny (and Egerton’s rendition of Elton John’s “I’m still standing” is awesome and could show X-Factor a thing or two about actual singing). Although this writer’s personal favourite character was Buster’s aged but loyal glass-eyed lizard secretary Ms. Crawley (voiced by director Garth Jennings himself).
Sing is just an unexpectedly warm and enjoyable treat for the entire family, which not only offers harmless fun but also offers a soul equally as joyful as the jukebox.