The latest film from Illumination Studios, the team behind Despicable me, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets, combines talking animals with a singing competition in what is basically Zootropolis meets the X Factor. It’s astounding that no one has thought of this concept earlier, it’s guaranteed to make millions, but is the movie any good?
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), the owner of a rundown theatre, decides to try and turn his business around by advertising a singing contest for everyday people with a one-thousand-dollar prize. However, due to a typing error by Ms. Crawley (Garth Jennings), a clumsy Iguana with a glass eye, the flyers advertise a cash prize of one-hundred-thousand-dollars instead. The contest gathers lots of attention, including housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), troubled Johnny (Taron Egerton), nervous Meena (Tori Kelly) and a Sinatra-esque mouse named Mike (Seth McFarlane). Seeing the hype surrounding the contest Buster decides to conceal the fact he doesn’t have the money so the show can go on.
Talent shows, especially in the age of reality TV, have evolved into something of a soap opera posing as real life. The allusion to the X Factor that was made above is actually not very accurate as Sing is a homage to the idea of why we loved talent shows to begin with and want to see “ordinary” people succeed. In an age where the authenticity of shows such as X Factor, The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent are oft questioned Sing is devoid of the cynicism that these shows promote. It’s a joyful romp expressing the inner desires of people who dream of stardom, and may never reach those heights, but want to show what they are capable of if given the chance. Illumination’s CG animation is wonderfully detailed and moves with a pace and drive that fits the madcap speed of it’s narrative. Director Garth Jennings, whose previous work includes The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Son of Rambow, builds a large, complex world filled with characters that, for the most part, balances its ensemble with panache. Every arc gets plenty of focus and although some play out in a cliché fashion you may expect, there are times of unexpected heart in the movie. Sing’s climax is a spectacular blowout that even the hardest cynic would have to try hard to dislike, even if it does result in some of the film’s plot threads being unresolved.
Despite a messy, yet thoroughly jubilant, landing in the third act Sing is full of wit and charm, so wholly joyful that it’s difficult not to nod along with its tune. Filled with nearly a hundred popular music tracks (though some feature for a matter of seconds) there is a pleasant range to the songs on display, and even a couple of original pieces that are solid bits of work, if unspectacular. Fun for all ages, the kids in the screening I was in certainly enjoyed it, this one is definitely worth your time.
Dir: Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet
Scr: Garth Jennings
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Matthew McConaughey, Tori Kelly, John C. Reilly, Scarlett Johansson, Seth McFarlane, Nick Kroll
Prd: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy
Music: Joby Talbot
Run time: 110 minutes
Sing is out now in UK cinemas.