written by David Steffen
Sing is a 2016 Illumination Entertainment animated musical comedy about an animal singing competition. Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), owner of the Moon theater, is on the verge of bankruptcy, but makes one last try at success to save his lifelong dream of running a successful theater: a singing competition with a prize of $1000, which is slightly more cash than he actually has in hand. Except, due to a clerical error by his assistant, the posters for the competition indicate that the cash prize is actually $100,000, so the contest draws a lot more notice than he expected.
Among others it draws the attention of devoted mother and pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who has always dreamed of a singing career but who has been busy raising her 25 children, jazz busking mouse Mike (Seth McFarlane), punk rock porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson), British gang gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), expansive German dancing pig Gunther (Nick Kroll), and stage fright-crippled elephant Meena (Tori Kelly). Buster doesn’t discover the clerical error in the posters until after the first round of auditions are over, but he decides to stick with the competition, despite having no plan to pay anyone.
The song list for the movie is very long, between full length songs and one-line clips from the first round of auditions (from characters who don’t make it through), lots of catchy stuff to tap your foot along to. There are several really good character storylines from these singing dreamers who want to get the big break that will change their lives forever–I particularly liked Johnny, and also Ash, as far as the singers themselves go. Johnny’s final song in particular I found really moving.
My favorite character wasn’t even a singer. I quite liked the character of Ms. Crawly, the elderly iguana who is working as Buster’s assistant (the one who made the clerical error that started it all). I feel like the movie treats her as comic relief, using her glass eye, slow gait, and other infirmities as a focus of comedy (I wanted to slap the scriptwriter whenever her eye randomly popped out and started causing trouble) but I found her a relatable character. Throughout the movie she works hard to do her job, despite the obvious physical problems, she never complains and never gives up, one of those women who quietly labors behind the scenes to make a place of business work smoothly as possible with little attention from her employers.
My only real complaint (apart from the overplayed use of Ms. Crawly’s infirmities as comic relief) was that it was one of those movies where almost all of the best comedy material was in the preview. If you saw the preview, thought it was hilarious, and want to see more, just keep in mind you’ve probably already seen the best stuff. The rest of the movie is good, but not good on a level as the material in the preview. If you didn’t think the preview was hilarious, then this movie’s probably not for you, at least in terms of comedy. I really wish movies wouldn’t do that, that they would make an effort to make the preview representative rather than to use up all the good stuff in the preview, but I guess that’s the nature of Hollywood marketing.