Movie Review: Sing! Hits the Right Notes

Film Review for the new animated musical Sing, opening in theatres December 21st 2016.
Movie Review: Sing! Hits the Right Notes
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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The movie musical has always been a staple of cinema, just as the animal infested animation event has become. Sing, the new family movie for the holiday season, brings the best of both classics, even if it lacks some originality.

Writer/Director Garth Jennings masterminds the simple, clean animated film from Illumination Entertainment. This company is the newest powerhouse, with titles like the Despicable Me series and this summer’s The Secret Life of Pets.

If you’ve seen other animated movies this year, the similarities are noticeable. Disney’s Zootopia offers the classic talking animals, and Moana offers up the Pop/Broadway fusion score. Despite this, Sing doesn’t use these elements in the same way, and instead uses them in a tasteful manner.

There are endless family movies that rely on cheap zingers and fart jokes, but those are absent here. In the same style as the depicted classic theatre, there’s a touch of class to the movie. If you’ve seen the Muppets, much of the film’s energy rides on the same “let’s put on a show” optimism.

The story follows the charismatic koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) trying to put on a show to save his theatre in the city (sort of an LA-for-animals.) Moon offers a $100,000 grand prize he doesn’t have as incentive, and anyone can audition.

Naturally, as the show draws closer, the rehearsals spiral out of control. The animals each perfect their acts with their own motivations and varied stories, all ending with the cast coming together to dazzle on opening night. After all, the show must go on.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures.

Two elements make the movie surprisingly fun to watch; the first is how sincere and charming the movie is, oozing pizzazz throughout Jennings’ script. The second is the stakes and thrilling action sequences that are scattered through the story. Don’t let the singing contest plot fool you – there are some great dramatic stakes.

Everyone in the cast is outstanding, and also succeeds at singing their own material. The zoological contestants each have their own styles across a wide range from modern rock, jazz, to gospel and everything in between.

Noteworthy players include porcupine Scarlett Johansson in an original punk rock solo, American Idol winner Tori Kelly as a shy elephant who comes out of her shell, and Seth MacFarlane as a mouse who looks (and sings) a lot like Frank Sinatra.

Best of all is Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service), playing the Gorilla teenage son of a city gang leader. His performance in the film’s concert finale is Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing”, and it’s a showstopper.

What keeps the movie from the heights of great animation such as Pixar or Disney is the heart and soul is without purpose. Sure the characters are honest, sweet, and definitely entertaining, but all it amounts to is how much they love singing.

The same themes are similar to many reality television series and past “you can do if you dream” stories from family features. There’s nothing bad in Sing, but the notes are just well sung. The song is one we’ve heard before.

While there’s few surprises, there’s humour and great music making for an easy crowd pleaser. I can’t recommend this over the truly wonderful Moana, though if you find yourself at Sing with your family for the holidays, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll absolutely leave the theatre singing, and maybe you’ll even be smiling.

Sing
2 1/2 out of 4 stars.

PG, 110 minutes. Animated Family Musical.
Directed by Garth Jennings.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, and John C. Reilly.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill, Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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