With all the memes making their way through the interwebs these days about what a god-awful year 2016 was, take some comfort in the fact that things end on an upbeat note (at least at the cineplex) with Illumination’s sparking Sing.
As effervescent as a cold glass of club soda, Sing is a toe-tapping, smile-inducing, heckuva good time, proving that the studio behind Despicable Me and Minions is an honest-to-goodness player on the animated movie scene. The movie features wall-to-wall infectious music (more than 85 songs) and some of the most fun and vibrant animation this year, coupled with memorable performances from a voice cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, and Scarlett Johansson.
McConaughey is the spectacle’s ringmaster as theater owner (and koala) Buster Moon. His bills are piling up, and his beloved show palace is facing foreclosure, so as a last ditch effort he decides to stage one last hurrah—an amateur singing competition he hopes will reignite his town’s interest in the theater.
The motley crew of competitors includes over-worked mom of 25 piglets Rosita (Witherspoon), a Rat-Pack inspired con-man mouse (McFarlane), and a gorilla named Johnny (Edgerton) who wants to distance himself from his father’s gang of robbers. They’re as eclectic a bunch as you could imagine, but their collective love of music bring them all together, and under Buster’s direction they work to put together the best talent show this side of American Idol (with a side order of The Gong Show tossed in for good measure).
There’s plenty to love about Sing, not the least of which is that director and screenwriter Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) gave each of the characters a unique personality. This isn’t just a random hodge-podge of anthropomorphic animals tossed into a blender to see what zany hijinks ensue. There’s a real story here, and mixed in with all the goofy humor and fun song snippets (everything from Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” to The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers”) there are some nice moments of heart and emotion.
McConaughey, who debuted his voice-over chops in 2016’s best animated film, Kubo and the Two Strings, anchors Sing with a flat-out great performance. Full of life and just enough of a folksy drawl to add some flavor, it’s memorable work. Edgerton and Witherspoon also rise to the top of the stacked cast, and Nick Kroll deserves an honorable mention for his turn as a Teutonic pig with a flair for the flamboyant.
There’s a lot going on here, including a third-act that knocks the film out of the park, but Jennings never forgets Sing’s sole purpose. The movie is here to entertain and help you forget your troubles and worries for just shy of two hours. And that’s something to really sing about.
Worth the 3D glasses?
There’s no shortage of 3D fun in Sing, but it’s not necessarily worth the added expense. There’s plenty of eye candy going on without the inconvenience of uncomfortable specs getting in the way. It’s a movie about singing, after all; the music is the real star, not stuff flying out of the screen toward you.