In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario’s attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists’ find that their lives will never be the same.
Director: Garth Jennings
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, John C. Reilly, Seth McFarlane, Nick Kroll, Jennifer Hudson, Beck Bennett, Jay Pharoah, Nick Offerman, Leslie Jones
Rated: PG (some rude humor and mild peril)
By Cole Schneider
“Sing” is a perfect example of what so many studios get wrong with kids movies. While Disney, Pixar, Laika, and many other smaller animation studios take time to craft multi-faceted characters and detailed artwork supporting their nuanced stories, many others like Illuminations seem content knowing that they can make similar amounts of money by pumping out subpar material. While films like “Frozen” and “Inside Out” will always be remembered fondly, movies like “The Croods” and “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” have already been forgotten. Every movie Illumination Studios (best known for “Despicable Me”) has released has been on that level—or worse. They either don’t care or they’re inept, and with each new release there is more proof that it’s the former.
“Sing”, an animated American Idol, is certainly not their worst effort. It touches on some themes that balance familiar with askew: overcoming poor self-confidence, the unifying power of music, and an insistence that there is more talent in the world than it is generally given credit for, which leads to a democratization of that talent. Unfortunately, it is offered up with the same lazy triteness we’re used to and underscores some typical problems with the genre, especially the unnecessary use of animals, racist caricatures, and the temporal nature of pop music. Someone really needs to alert these studio executives about this. In the time it takes between a movie’s production and its release, these songs are no longer popular. They’re as disposable as the movies they’re so often sung in, and among its many problems, the stand-out single in “Sing” is precisely that. It’s disposable.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
2016 has been a porcupine quill in the eye, so it feels appropriate that Sing, a decided disappointment, is the last movie I review this year. Illumination (Minions, Despicable Me) might be the most mediocre studio around; each of their movies have such potential, yet refuse to reach past clichéd stories, characters, and humor. Sing is no different, leaning on montages to fix problems, stilted familiarity to force emotion, and a long-expired message about kids being themselves. Gimme a break.
It starts great, introducing us to each of the singing-animal characters with a flying shot, letting us know how they’re music affects and is affected by the life around them. Unfortunately from there, each high note the movie hits is undercut by a sour one.
The lack of one clear protagonist gives it some stakes, but they do little with them except to bombard us with “The Voice” style sob stories. The song performances definitely have their moments, but they also have their annoyances (Crazy Town’s “Butterfly”; rabbits singing “Anaconda”; yet ANOTHER cover of “Hallelujah”). The one decent character, a soulful gorilla named Johnny, is even ruined by a dangerously cynical parenting storyline.
Worst of all, the humor fails. In my theater, the only joke that garnered real guffaws was a shoddy gag about nervous farting. The characters being animals serves no purpose but to cheaply engage children, unlike the far superior Zootopia from earlier this year, which used its non-human characters to great comedic and thematic effect. I guess if you found the trailers for Sing hilarious, emotionally fulfilling and coherently plotted, then you may enjoy this. Otherwise, don’t buy a ticket for this show.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars