Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Review: Sing

Directed by: Garth Jennings.
Written by: Garth Jennings. 
Starring: Matthew McConaughey (Buster Moon), Reese Witherspoon (Rosita), Seth MacFarlane (Mike), Scarlett Johansson (Ash), John C. Reilly (Eddie), Taron Egerton (Johnny), Tori Kelly (Meena), Jennifer Saunders (Nana), Jennifer Hudson (Young Nana), Garth Jennings (Miss Crawly / Additional Voices), Peter Serafinowicz (Big Daddy), Nick Kroll (Gunter), Beck Bennett (Lance), Jay Pharoah (Meena's Grandfather), Nick Offerman (Norman), Leslie Jones (Meena's Mother), Rhea Perlman (Judith).
No one is going to confuse Illumination’s Sing as a great film – the film barely has a plot, and is essentially an excuse to string together over 60 pop songs, past and present into less than two hours (most are just snippets, but still). But, there is charm to the film – in the same way there was a charm to all those 1930s and 1940s “Let’s put on a show!” movie musicals, whose plots were about as thin as Sing’s. The film has its heart in the right place, has some nice moments, and basically gives kid an excuse to dance along with the music. You wouldn’t be wrong to say that Moana does the same thing, and actually provides kids with a great story and characters, and better animation – and hell, Trolls did the same thing too just a couple of months ago, and had slightly more wit and originality to it (or maybe it just like it did, since it was a movie based on horribly ugly children’s toys). Yet, Sing knows precisely who its audience is, and delivers precisely what they want. If you’re not a kid – or don’t have one – feel free to skip Sing. If you are a kid, or a parent of one, this film delivers precisely what you expect.
The film perfectly casts Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon – a koala bear, and owner of a theater in desperate need of cash. Moon is part huckster, part con man, part dreamer and all McConughey charm. He has an idea to essentially hold a singing competition for the whole town at is theater – the audition montage is perhaps the most enjoyable of the whole movie (and yes, could have gone on longer) – but it’s fairly quickly, when Moon settles on just a few contestants for the big show – each of whom have their own journey to go on. Johnny (Taron Egerton) is a gorilla, whose father wants him to become part of his robbery crew, but all he wants to do is sing. Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) is the mother of 25 piglets, who has to overcome her hesitance to dance. Ash (Scarlett Johansson), is a teenage porcupine rocker, dumped by her less talented boyfriend. Mike (Seth Macfarlane) is a Frank Sinatra-esque rat, with some shady ties. Meena (Tori Kelly) is an elephant with an amazing voice – but is too scared to sing.
Sing doesn’t really try to redeem any of its characters – they do not become heroes, but they all grow a little throughout the film, and learn something about themselves. Most of the movie involves Moon’s various attempts to get more money, couple with some bad rehearsals from the competitors. When a late disaster seems to threaten the whole show, all hope seems lost – but we all know that won’t do, right? The final 30 minutes or so is the singing competition – where we finally hear whole versions of song – and it’s clearly the film’s highpoint.
The film was directed by Garth Jennings – who did The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Son of Rambow. He isn’t the director I’d expect to see behind a film like Sing, but hey, he seems to know what he’s doing. The film is light on plot, but high on visual wit and gags, with a thoroughly charming voice cast, and a heck of a lot of music. No, Sing isn’t a great movie – but it knows precisely what it wants o do, and delivers just that – and nothing more.

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