Director: Garth Jennings
Screenplay: Garth Jennings
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly
Runtime: 108 Minutes
This is where the media saturation of reality television and talent shows comes full circle; a film concerning a singing competition, held by Matthew McConaughey’s theatre owner Buster Moon as a means of saving his unprofitable business. In a post-Zootropolis world for anthropomorphic animals in animation, Sing is like a collection of targeted tropes, gags and pop culture references designed to appeal to the widest possible demographic as the least demanding form of populist family entertainment.
Garth Jennings of Son of Rambow fame is in the writer/directors chair here, and his approach to the story - with an abundance of different characters of identifiable backgrounds – is almost the films saving grace. There’s an undercurrent of rather novel narcissism that undercuts the drama, hammering in the themes of rivalry, bravery and the weight and strain of expectation.
Reese Witherspoon’s pig Rosita is a mother so underappreciated at home that they barely notice when she’s gone. Scarlett Johansson’s porcupine Ash is a teenager with a more than adequate voice in an oppressive relationship with her musical partner. Seth MacFarlane’s mouse Mike is one of the most arrogant and dislikeable presences in the film as a jazz singer who has completely bought into his own sense of self-worth. Taron Egerton’s gorilla Johnny is the most compelling character as a gangster’s (Peter Serafinowicz) son who wants to break out of a cycle of criminality. While supporting roles of John C. Reilly and a scene-stealing Jennifer Saunders round off the all-star cast.
Instead of lingering on any of these more interesting elements of vanity and insensitivity in the competition, the film is far more concerned with weak and tired gags and one-liners, with the film blasting out as many licensed pop music tracks as it possibly can, while animals large and small dance around the frame in funny costumes courtesy of Illumination Entertainment’s frail standards of animation and character design.
It's optimistic in mood and is decent and channelling the exaggerated narratives of these kinds of shows, but beyond the vocals, it's nothing uncommon. It’s nothing as odious or undignified as some of Illumination’s other output, but there’s very little more to it than that.