The Voice meets dramedy meets CG animation is a great and brief way to describe SING – the latest feature from Illumination Entertainment (The Secret Life of Pets, Minions, Despicable Me). Illumination has already proven that they can churn out hits, and “Sing” has all the makings of one – including great songs, clever characters, and animation that pops and engages – but how does it fair?
“Sing” tells the story of koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who’s in dire straits but is the proud owner (for the time being) of a famed theater. Desperate to raise funds and save the theater, Moon comes up with an elaborate singing competition idea. Enter a cute cast of animal characters played by several Hollywood heavyweights, including Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, and newer A-listers like Taron Egerton and Leslie Jones and the story becomes one comedic and emotional rollercoaster.
And it’s the latter descriptors that give me pause – as there are some heavy themes in “Sing” and I question if it’s as appropriate for the littlest of folk. The characters not only deal with financial crises, but there are family woes, criminal relatives – not to mention a hustler contestant – and relationship issues that are displayed – and that’s fine for older kids and adults, but our littlest contributor, Miss Jayla the 4-year-old, zoned out about midway through the film. I believe some of the concepts were a bit too weighty and she was anticipating a quicker resolution.
Unfortunately, she checked out before the big finale – which is very well-done and as uplifting as the audience needed it to be, especially after experiencing a disaster scene…but no spoilers so I’ll leave it there! And, unlike when she really enjoys a film, Jayla has not requested or watched YouTube clips for SING. I guess me and her mother had a better time with this one at the theater (there is a nod to Beyonce’s “Becky with the good hair” lyric that almost took me out!).
I also really enjoyed the performances – to me the standouts were Tori Kelly’s cover of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing,” by Stevie Wonder, and Taron Egerton’s cover of the Elton John hit “I’m Still Standing.” And Jennifer Hudson as retired opera star Nana Noodleman – and Ariana Grande and Wonder singing during the end credits – gives the film a star power bonus.
Speaking of Stevie Wonder, the soundtrack song he wrote “Faith,” was recently nominated for a Golden Globe! (Check out the video below)
One thing that I didn’t enjoy or find funny was a singing group, composed of foxes I believe, that appeared to be some type of comic relief during the audition/rehearsal scenes. Problem is, the characters were Asian, speaking a language clearly not understood by, and in turn they didn’t understand, Buster Moon – leading to a very disappointing joke. It’s 2016 Hollywood, why aren’t we pass this? Do better.
So what’s the take away? SING has some extremely funny moments, a couple of disappointing ones, and is filled with great songs and performances. It’s an animated film opening during the holidays, so I’m sure it will do quite well. I wouldn’t recommend for the under 6 yrs crowd, but certainly 7+ yrs possess the patience and inquisitiveness to follow the story well.
Stop back and share a comment or two when you see it, and the giveaway winners from last night’s screening should really feel free to chime in!
Until next thought, Thomasena
SING opens in theaters nationwide on December 21.
Jayla is MMT’s kid contributor, and Thomasena’s self-described “littlest Gemini bestie.” Her favorite colors are purple and pink, and she enjoys Minnie Mouse and Snoopy.