Sing (2016)1:01 PM
Sing is directed by Christophe Lourdelet (directorial debut) and Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow) and features the voices of Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Mud), Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Legally Blonde), Seth MacFarlane (Ted, Family Guy), Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers, Lucy), Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and Tori Kelly (musician). "In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario's attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists' find that their lives will never be the same". Illumination's latest offering comes from singing animals - will they be better than the secretive pets or the despicable minions?
Thank goodness this is technically a 2016 release or else the theme of disappointments would be carrying on into 2017. Illumination failed to impress me with The Secret Life of Pets and once again, Sing is just nothing special - the concept wasn't executed as well as it could and should have been. Sing isn't awful and I have definitely seen worse animated features but financially, Illumination is one of the leading animation studios right now so I just wish the quality was as consistent as Pixar and Disney - it's kind of like the DCEU in comparison to the MCU.
Credit does have to go to the casting director as they truly managed to ensemble a great set of voice talent - all of the actors were able to sing surprisingly well! Lets begin with our only consistent lead - Matthew McConaughey who plays Buster Moon. I have to say, the thing that irritates me most about McConaughey in his other roles is his voice so when it is literally just his voice, it was even worse. I don't know what it is and its a personal preference but I just don't like his style. I also thought his voice completely didn't suit the cuteness of Buster Moon. McConaughey does a nice job but he just isn't for me. Reese Witherspoon's Rosita was probably my favourite character in this film - I liked her backstory and I also liked her final performance. Witherspoon did a good job and she had a sweet singing voice. Tori Kelly definitely stole the show when it came to her vocal talent - her singing was excellent. There are many other stars in the cast and they all do a nice job, but it was nothing too memorable. The songs were all pretty good - Shake It Off, Hallelujah and Set It All Free were my favourites.
The film began and the plot was set up and I liked it because it was still a concept - that good concept was not executed well - more on that soon. I just wish the film stayed with its core plot rather than spiralling off into silly subplots to do with gangs of gorillas and bears. A woman sitting next to me actually said 'I thought this was meant to be a happy film' - I agree, Sing should be what Trolls was - it should be happy, fun and high energy throughout and it just wasn't, apart from the auditions and final act. I like the message within the film about no matter how hard you get hit, you've got to get back up again - that was nice. However, there were also some silly and ridiculous themes for a children's movie - reckless driving, lying to banks and gangs. All of this just didn't fit with the rest of Sing's plot. The film was also way too long - what was tolerable about The Secret Life of Pets was that it was around 80 minutes long, Sing is bordering on 2 hours! A kids film that is nearly 2 hours long?!! The packed theatre was like a constant flow of traffic of restless kids being ferried to and from the toilets. I can't see this becoming a family favourite in years to come - maybe it'll work better with slightly older children? The plot should have just been much simpler, it didn't need all the other wacky stuff. The film also has many comedic moments which do help to keep it light - the moment where Buster cleans cars is probably the funniest but there are also many one-liners. I also thought the 'Shake it Off' performance was very funny, especially when Rosita changes outfits.
Illumination Entertainment, what are we going to do with you? The only films by them I have truly liked and have held up well with me are The Lorax and the first Despicable Me - Despicable Me 2 and Minions were underwhelming and The Secret Life of Pets was one of the most disappointing films of last year (and was basically a Toy Story rip off). Sing is pretty original with its story, I'll give them that but like Pets, the trailers promised something really special but the gimmick literally lasted for the auditions scene and returned for the final show and all other energy, happiness and fun was lost. Illumination seem to have a problem executing their great ideas - I think they need to get some writers who can actually expand an idea into a good story.
The animation is admittedly pretty good - the film is always quite bright and colourful. However, like Storks I'm not leaving the cinema wanting merchandise of any of these characters - possibly Buster if he didn't have the voice of Matthew McConaughey. I will give it to Illumination that the red panda k-pop group were quite funny and looked quite cute - if only they were in the film more.
Sing is another disappointment from Illumination entertainment - don't let the trailers fool you because that funny audition sequence is one of the best parts of the film. The film is just too much talking, too much time spent on irrelevant subplots and too much of Matthew McConaughey's voice. There are some saving graces - Rosita voiced by Reese Witherspoon and Tori Kelly's excellent vocals as Meena. Other than them, the rest of the cast are good but nothing special - this talented ensemble are wasted. The film is well animated and nice to look at - especially that squid sequence. However, Sing wasn't as uplifting, happy and fun as I wanted it to be but there is good stuff here. The only reason Sing would make it to the next round is if it was a wild card because it isn't a sure bet or a crowd pleaser.