Thursday, 8 December 2016

Sing: Film Review

Sing: Film Review


Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, John C Reilly
Director: Garth Jennings

With a note saying Sing contains 85 songs during its 110 minute duration, you could be forgiven for feigning apathy after doing the maths of how often they'd appear.

(Maths purists - it's about 1 every 1 minute or so)

But Illumination's latest animated foray manages to pack in some zaniness around the music and the relatively 2 dimensional characters in this thinly veiled tribute to vaudeville and music audition shows.

Matthew McConaughey plays Buster Moon, a koala theatre impresario whose love of the boards has seen him put on several less than successful shows. With the bank about to foreclose on his theatre and with ideas running out, Moon decides to put on a singing audition competition to attract some interest. But things go further than planned when his lizard secretary accidentally puts onto the fliers that there's a $100K at stake...

It's easy to see why Sing's crammed its run time with classic songs - it's simply because there's nothing more than a terribly basic plot to flesh proceedings out. But that's not to take away from the fun moments that permeate the screen - from auditions with endlessly familiar pop songs blasting out to wacky sight gags, there's enough to keep the younger end happy and enough to ensure the adults recognise the music.

However, it's not quite enough.

Given Zootopia made real its anthropomorphic world with depth and insight, this tale feels lacking in anything other than a simple bubblegum formulaic animation that ticks the boxes and does little else as it zips between what feels like episodic moments stuck loosely together.

It's a shame as the vocal talent is more than sensational - McConaughey's laid back drawl makes Moon an affable and perky presence, MacFarlane's parlance is perfectly suited to a jazz playing mouse, whose rat-pack pretensions and sass are on display from the beginning and John C Reilly's perfectly cast as the slacker mate of Moon.

But it all feels so by the numbers, a medley of melodies being its only real saving grace. And to be frank, the idea of putting one last show on with a menagerie of oddballs has repeatedly been done to death by The Muppet Show.

There are no messages here other than a little self-belief and a hastily bolting on bonding between a father and son gorilla - but Sing is perfectly happy to carry on regardless.

Where it wins is once again indulging the wackiness of the Illumination brand, pioneered by Despicable Me and expanded by Minions. Simple wacky moments add a levity to the film but also serve to highlight the weaknesses in the overall story and lack of real personality.

When Moon announces his intention to put on a singing audition, there's a meta moment where one character intones "Who wants to see another one of those?"

It's a prescient moment, and if the world-weary and slightly cynical among us nod our heads in agreement, there's an almost tacit acknowledgement that younger audiences will lap up the unabashed feel-good simplicity of it all and its formulaic edges, because it all comes wrapped in a perfectly dayglo blast of music and well-visualised fluffy characters.

Sing may aspire to hit the high notes, but in truth, it actually manages to solidly hit a mid-range, never quite veering into essential territory but never quite making itself feel unwanted.


Sing previews from the 9-11th of December, before opening on general release on Boxing Day.

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