Kicking off the year for kids’ films is a non-Pixar, jukebox musical-type movie about a singing competition. And, considering how I despise singing competition shows, don’t have a great track record for non-Pixar kids movies (see here: Secret Life of Pets), and only like one jukebox musical (Moulin Rouge!, of course), it’s a triumph that I actually really enjoyed it.
Sing is about an enthusiastic koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) who, with his theatre in danger of foreclosure, decides to host a singing competition to garner attention and publicity in order to save his business, bringing five talented animals in desperate need of a win into his crazy fray.
Despite its simple premise, Sing is surprisingly complex, advancing from its lazy roll call of characters at the beginning and delivering a fun, sweet collection of characters who get caught up in Buster’s antics. There’s nothing he won’t do to stop his show from happening, and from avoiding tax collectors to building giant squid tanks to impress benefactors, each scheme is original and amusing, allowing the more clichéd story elements to be overlooked by their refreshing counterparts.
The same can be said for the characters: for every archetype there’s an invention, so we have Ash (Scarlett Johansson) the punk rock porcupine; Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) the mother pig; Johnny (Taron Egerton) is the son of a criminal gorilla; Meena (Tori Kelly) is a shy elephant with huge talent, and Mike (Seth MacFarlane) is a scheming mouse. As the five battle fierce rivalry, flooding and financial issues along with Buster, a beautiful friendship blossoms, and these initially distrusting performers become a support network which allows each of them to become something unexpected, and moreover, happy.
Yet for such a feel-good film, Sing is actually pretty tragic at times: Johnny’s father disowns him, Ash is discovering herself after a rough breakup, and Rosita is sadly underappreciated, and with Buster failing at his father’s dream, there are some really hard moments. But this kind of tough realism is always much more interesting to see in a kids film, and not only does it give Sing more of that Pixar maturity, it teaches kids that not everything turns out okay, but you have the people around you.
This sadness is made up for by a wonderfully fun soundtrack, showing off some brilliant Hollywood voices in some of your favourite songs. Though some songs were a cringe-worthy choice (sorry, but Shake It Off needs to die again), every voice shines: Egerton has an amazing voice singing the likes of Sam Smith and George Michael, MacFarlane pulls off a great Sinatra impression in My Way, and Johansson’s Ash gets her big moment in the film’s original song Set It All Free. It’s yet another end of year film that has an addictive soundtrack.
Brought to you by the Minions and Secret Life of Pets people, Sing is an unexpectedly good movie full of great music, talent and heart. Though it may have its clichés and expected moments, Sing takes tired tropes and surrounds them with brighter, fresh moments of fun and depth, making it a worthy summer movie.
I honestly really love this cast, so here’s my top five favourite list of movies and TV shows starring the voice cast of Sing!:
- Kingsman: the Secret Service – Taron Egerton
- Legally Blonde – Reese Witherspoon
- Captain America: Civil War – Scarlett Johansson
- Parks and Recreation – Nick Kroll
- Kubo and the Two Strings – Matthew McConaughey
Photos taken from IMDB.com: