Music is such an important part of each and every one of our lives - it's entertainment, it's solace, it's an escape. Trying to capture the magic of music is a difficult achievement, and one that can so often go terribly wrong. 'Sing' tries to bring the essence of music to life in an animated film set in a world with talking, singing, adorable animals... what more could you need to hit the right note?
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala who runs a struggling music theatre. As a last resort, he comes up with an idea he's sure will draw in the crowds: a singing competition. When animals come from all over to show off their talent for the $100,000 grand prize, it looks like he's hit the big time. Making it to the finals are a crooning mouse (Seth MacFarlane), a power-pop pig (Reese Witherspoon), a spunky singing monkey (Taron Egerton), an apprehensive elephant (Tori Kelly), and a punky porcupine (Scarlett Johansson). Just when it looks like everything is going to plan for Buster, disaster strikes - but can the show go on?
First off, there's a lot of talent involved in this production. The vocal cast can undeniably belt out a tune, corralled together by a charismatic koala (albeit one with an American accent). They do what the film's title suggests, and in abundance - there's barely a moment in the movie where there's not one well-known song or another playing, be it a classic from Frank Sinatra or a little bit of Beyoncé. Music is the key to this feel-good film, and it's wallpapered from start to finish with hits.
Yet therein lies the issue with the premise. In the film, Buster's best friend, a sheep named Eddie (voiced by John C. Reilly) asks the pertinent question: who wants to see another singing competition? With the format growing tired after decades of exhaustion on television, does it get a breath of fresh life on the big screen? Unfortunately, with so much focus on the contest itself, and so many characters to juggle, the film doesn't have much room for a substantial storyline. Sure, disaster must be averted, there's a few flaky backstories to follow, and a few morals to be learned about turning your dreams into a reality, but not enough to disguise the flimsy premise; no amount of colourful animation or funny animals can change that.
There's barely a moment in the movie where there's not one well-known song or another playing, be it a classic from Frank Sinatra or a little bit of Beyoncé.
The animation here isn't anything out of the ordinary, either. We've seen much better in recent years - even this year's Illumination animation 'The Secret Life Of Pets' had a lot more to offer visually and emotionally, let alone fellow animated musical Boxing Day release, 'Moana'. Still, the payoff here is the finale, when we witness the big show-stopping numbers in all their glory - and without giving too much away, it doesn't disappoint.
We at SWITCH readily confess to loving an animated film that hits home to the adults too. Unfortunately, 'Sing' doesn't quite have the charisma to pull that off. It's fun and lighthearted and will keep the kids entertained, but the music is so incessant that no one song stands out, and the story is so slight that it will have drifted from your mind before you've even departed through the cinema doors. Despite all of that talent, it's missing the heart and soul that - like a catchy tune - would have it stuck in your head for days.