A slew of animated films hit the theatres in 2016, from Moana to Zootopia. They aim to be break the mould by dealing with complex subject matter such as racial profiling and ecological damage. Sing, the newest film by Illumination Studios (Minions, The Secret Life of Pets), takes a step in the opposite direction. It feels less like a film and more like a Who’s Who of the film and music industries.
Matthew McGonaughey, Scarlett Johansson, Seth McFarlane, Reese Witherspoon, John C Reilly are just a few members of the all-star cast. Carly Rae Jepson’s ear-worm millennial anthem Call Me Maybe finds space next to classic songs by the likes of Frank Sinatra. There’s even an original collaboration between Ariana Grande and Stevie Wonder. These are a drop in the ocean because the film has 85 musical interludes.
Sing is about Buster Moon (McGonaughey) a koala with showbiz dreams at a time when the theatre is in the doldrums. So he does what most characters in musicals do to resurrect their failing careers: he plans a singing competition. He hopes that the contest will not only provide a life raft for him but also a coterie of other cuddly and talented anthropomorphic animals in the city. Witherspoon’s Rosita is a pig with 25 children whose dancing dreams are far behind her. Taron Egerton’s Johnny is a gorilla gangster-in-training with a overbearing father by night but by day nurses hopes of a singing career. Rehearsals begin for the one last show, but a series of plot machinations make it difficult for the event to be staged.
For a jukebox musical like this to be successful, there needed to be more singing and dancing. Instead, at times, the movie feels like putting a music player on shuffle and playing hit songs for no more than a few seconds. But director Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is not aiming to make a classic. Sing lacks discernible personality, but it’s light and colourful, has a few jokes and a plethora of singing and dancing animals. You’ll forget it soon after you leave the cinema, but it passes the time just fine.