Does the world really need another music contest spoof? Illumination Entertainment seems to think so. “Sing” is the studio’s second film this year following up the rather ho-hum “Secret Life of Pets.” That film, which looked so promising, ultimately fell flat for anyone over the age 8. It seems “Sing” goes the same way. One would think the studio behind “Despicable Me” could do better than riffing off “The Voice” or “American Idol.” Its endearing qualities are quaint and sufficient, but ultimately, “Sing” fails to capture what makes singing contests so great—the j n’ais sai quois.
The movie follows the tales of several animals including a gorilla with soul (Taron Egerton), an enterprising pig mom (Reese Witherspoon), and a prickly teenager who is—no joke—a porcupine (Scarlett Johansson). It’s hard to discern who is the main character, but if I was forced to pick one it would be Matthew McConaughey’s Buster Moon; a koala who owns a failing theater.
He creates a singing contest as a last-ditch effort to save the theater. Enter in a Noah’s Ark of hopeful singers ranging from a K-Pop red panda band to a trio of sassy bunnies. Buster combs through the competition and settles on his chosen few.
Each animal gets its own backstory, which ends up diluting the entire plot. There is simply not enough time to get wholly invested in any of the stories. The writers certainly tried to play at your heart strings but unlike real singing contests, which go on for weeks, there are only 108 minutes to convince you to care about the singing menagerie and get the plot moving along.
Unsurprising the pacing is awkward and the plot is weak. Predictability aside, “Sing” feels like a less aspirational cousin of Disney’s “Zootopia.”
The film’s redeeming grace is that it’s not that bad. It will amuse your kids and probably get some laughs out of you. The breakout star really is Witherspoon’s Rosita. She’s delightfully entertaining and endearingly relatable to all the hard-working moms and dads out there. With a litter of 20-odd piglets, she manages to devise a way to take care of them all and her overworked hog husband (voiced by Nick Offerman) and still rock the singing contest—to her family’s surprise.
While not the year’s best animation, “Sing” is a good family film and a decent alternative to seeing “Rogue One” or “Moana” for the 10th time.
– Mesa resident Kaely Monahan is producer of Popcorn Fan Film Reviews.