Release date: 27th January 2017/Watch the trailer here
Sing is the latest animated caper from Illumination Entertainment, the people responsible for driving parents crazy with the once kind of cute but now infuriating Minions. Thankfully, Sing is nowhere near as annoying: while it may not have the sort of profound message at its heart that we’ve come to expect from Disney and Pixar, it’s enough harmless fun to keep both children and parents entertained for a couple of hours.
Set in a Zootropolis-esque city of anthropomorphic animals, Sing centres around a down on his luck theatre owner, koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey). In a last-ditch attempt to save his theatre, Buster decides to host a singing competition that becomes much bigger than he anticipated after his ageing assistant Miss Crawley (voiced by writer and director Garth Jennings) accidentally adds a few extra zeroes to the $1,000 prize money on the poster. The story of Buster and his theatre becomes intertwined with those of the contestants, including Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a pig who struggles to balance caring for her hectic family with her passion for singing; Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a crooning mouse con artist who runs into a spot of trouble with a family of Russian bears; Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk-rock porcupine attempting to overcome teenage heartbreak; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla who’d rather sing than join his father’s criminal gang; and Meena (Tori Kelly), a shy elephant with an incredible voice.
Admittedly, there are a few too many storylines crammed into one film, and some are more engaging than others – Johnny and Meena’s stories have some heartwarming resolutions, for example, but it’s difficult to care much for Seth MacFarlane’s egomaniac mouse, while his mobster run-in will likely go over the heads of most younger children.
Eventually, though, everything comes together for a fantastic finale that has a genuine talent show feel to it – and it helps that all of the voice cast stars can (surprisingly, in the case of some) really sing, too, as they belt out hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Stevie Wonder.
There might not be much meaning behind it and there are no real life lessons to be learned, but sometimes there’s nothing wrong with spending 100 minutes with animated animals singing pop songs. The music – and if you name an artist, there’s probably at least a snippet of a song by them in here somewhere – really is the essence of Sing, since Jennings’ script isn’t all that strong otherwise and there are surprisingly few laugh-out-loud jokes that don’t revolve around toilet humour. Still, Sing is proof that it’s okay for a children’s film to be silly when that silliness is done so well.