3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)
Sing is one of those rare animated movies that ends much stronger than it starts. The marketing has made the film’s appropriateness for the big screen rather questionable, showing endless pop numbers, a famous voice cast, and clichéd-looking characters. However, while I certainly could complain about how clichéd and predictable the plot threads are, Sing did two things to avoid that fate: its characters were likable and had clean, relatable humor the entire family can enjoy together. While we get one horrid fart joke and one or two edgy song choices, Sing is overall a fun and music-filed romp that should entertain those willing to embrace it.
The main story follows Buster Moon (a multi-accented Matthew McConaughey), a koala with a crumbling theater who needs a big show to avoid bank repossession. In one desperate move, Moon promotes a musical talent show wherein the winner will go home with $1,000 (okay, $963 and an expensive watch to be exact). Unfortunately, due to a typing mistake by the elderly reception-lizard Ms. Crawl (Leslie Jones), the flyers read $100,000, prompting a cavalcade of animals to audition. These animals include a stay-at-home pig (Reese Witherspoon), a criminal gorilla with dreams of singing (Taron Egerton), and a porcupine with dreams of rockstardom (Scarlett Johansson), along with a few others. Now, all must put their best hoof forward in preparation for the show, all while dealing with their personal lives offstage.
This movie has one of the most eye-rolling opening acts I’ve seen in a long time. The pacing seems too quick, the characterizations weak, and the stories thin and clichéd. However, I am a fair critic, so I sat and waited for the film to find its voice. Thankfully, my patience paid off, and I was treated to a film that was fun, funny, and full of energetic music. No preachy messages here (other than to preserve old theaters, but it’s not in your face.) The first 20 minutes felt like one of those classic bad kids’ films: you know, the ones that simply move around and put pretty colors and songs on the screen for your kids, but have nothing of value for you. However, the movie shapes up and chooses cleverness over bathroom humor and endearing characters over boring archetypes. It isn’t a classic, but it entertained me and my mom far more than either of us expected.
The animation is mixed here. Some scenes are beautiful, specifically one involving realistic water near the end and a trailer-spoiled supermarket dance, but others fall in the “meh-dium” category, specifically in terms of fur design and the designs of a few characters. It’s not cheap looking, just inconsistent at times. They can’t all be Disney.
The voice-acting is pretty good all around, but McConaughey is inconsistent in his accent. He’s solid most of the time but has a few moments where the accent dropped completely or changed from a British-sounding thing to his normal Southern drawl. This was especially noticeable because there are two actual British actors using their accents to great effect here. Everyone else is fine all around, giving legitimate performances rather than sleeping through this for easy money.
The characters and song choices bring this up in the ranks for me. I liked spending time with these people and wanted them to succeed with in their dreams. The song choices also fit the characters and their arcs very well. I normally cannot stand two songs chosen here, but I felt they were perfect selections in context. I still can’t stand the songs, but they were put to great use here. Lastly, I must congratulate the writers on using clever humor over bathroom jokes here. Many a talking animal movie has been ruined by crude humor, but I think studios are finally realizing that families don’t want that anymore. They know Parents put money down, not the kids, so they have to entertain them too.
Sing starts out rough, but evens out to become a fun and energetic good time at the movies. The characters are likable, the humor appropriate for all ages, and the songs well-chosen. If you’re looking for a funny, toe-tapping afternoon with your kids, then Sing should leave you fully satisfied. See it.
Rated PG for Some Rude Humor (the fart joke) and Mild Peril (the criminal apes are involved in some mild car chases)