From the studio that brought you stupid yellow things screaming and Steve Carell with a grating accent comes a brand new music adventure: Sing. Sing tells the universal story of dreamers wishing to be something more. So sit back, snap your fingers and tap your toes to entertaining sequences of song and dance.
And for some reason, everybody is an animal.
Sing never does anything to warrant walking and talking animals. But of course Sing ups the ante by having those animals sing and dance. Cartoon animals living in a human world for the sake of cartoon animals living in a human world.
At one point an elephant suction cups a plate glass window. There is a moment where a gorilla is extra strong. There are Mice that are small. Giraffes are tall. Koalas are fuzzy. A whale swims.
My favorite movie growing up was Disney’s Robin Hood. I now realize that movie runs into the same issue I have with Sing. Hypocrite. Yet, Robin Hood released over forty years ago. Film making has grown in that huge span of time. I expect movies to have succinct reasons behind each decision.
“Let’s have a movie where animals participate in a singing contest.”
“Why are they animals?”
“Kids like animals.”
I would be remiss not to mention Disney’s anthropomorphic animal movie that came out this year: Finding Dory… No. Finding Dory was awful. That’s not the one I want to compare with Sing. How about the OTHER Disney anthropomorphic animal movie? Jungle Book?! No, that was worse. I need to be more specific. I’m talking about the GOOD Disney anthropomorphic animal movie that came out this year: Zootopia.
Zootopia and Sing share some obvious similarities. Both movies take place in a post-apocalyptic world where animals have destroyed all humans. After evolving and achieving human cognizance, the animals have seized control of our planet. For some reason the animals kept our social constructs and technology. Also, some of the animals like to sing our songs.
More to the point, Zootopia had a clear and poignant reason for making the characters animals. It goes beyond animal-based jokes and puns. The message of Zootopia is one of equality and determination. It achieves this by taking our knowledge of the animal food chain and flipping it.
The message of Sing is to be yourself and follow your dreams. Sing achieves this by showing characters that learn to believe in themselves. In turn, those characters follow their dreams. How ribbiting– I mean, riveting.
And without going too far down this rabbit hole, Sing also teaches kids that everything will work out okay as long as you know someone who’s rich. Woof.
I feel like I’ve gotten into the weeds a little here so let’s try and get this review back on the vine. The main draw of Sing is the singing. I will ignore the fact that the movie would be the same exact movie had it starred humans. I must give Sing credit for featuring great songs and casting humans who can sing.
Judging from the trailers, I was expecting cliche music with a healthy dose of current top 40 pop songs. My expectations weren’t completely off base, but it turns out that the music of Sing is a huge positive.
Right off the bat, Sing hits you with a beautiful rendition of “Golden Slumbers”. Normally I would recommend against covering a Beatles song in a kids movie. But when Jennifer Hudson is the one hired to sing it… wow, she sings the horse crap out of that song.
What a way to start. From that point on, I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the Sing soundtrack.
Some music selections are painfully obvious. But as with the opening number, there are lots of pleasant surprises. Most of the arrangements stayed true to the original. But when there are changes, the alterations offer something unique.
The final performances by each main characters is without a doubt the highlight of the movie. The song choices are fun. The action is exciting and full of clever visuals. And each character gets to revel in some sort of catharsis.
It just unfortunate that Sing builds to these character moments as half-assed as possible.
Each character suffers from some sort of emotional issue. None of them are overly complex. Sing is a simple movie. It plays out just about how you think it will. I don’t need a boyfriend to have self worth. My dad does love me for who I am. I am more than just a mom. I can have confidence.
Sing covered each topic good enough. But with five leads, it’s hard to give each character real meaningful time. In an odd twist, we spend the most time with Buster Moon (the koala) who is the one who grows the least. He has no real arch. He loves the theater at the beginning of the movie. He loves the theater at the end.
I would have preferred to spend more time getting to know each of the singers. And I would have liked to see these singers spend any sort of meaningful time together. That way the conclusion would feel earned.
I guess that’s too much to expect from a 3D animated kids movie.
Bull-hooey. I could only say that if there weren’t already evidence of animated movies delivering well developed characters. The time for cheap and easy is over.
But it is worth remembering that Sing is made by the same studio that makes Minions. So with that in mind, Sing is pretty darn good. Characters do more than yell at each other in a gibberish language. It’s a good sign of improvement over at Illumination.