Published On: Thu, Dec 8th, 2016

‘Sing’ movie review: ‘American Idol’ with talking animals attempts to give the audience some pep in their step

Art imitates life as American Idol meets the world of animation in Illumination’s new production, Sing.  Opening December 21, 2016 nationwide, director Garth Jennings takes us through the back stories of the top contestants in a singing competition intended to save an old theater who has long since seen its greatest days.  The story is set in a human-style world with a plethora of animals living human-like lives similar to what we recently saw in Disney’s Zootopia.

Despite the ensemble cast of characters (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, and Jennifer Hudson), the only voice my amateur ears could recognize from time to time was that of McConaughey.  This is actually a big plus for the movie-goer.

sing-movie-posterIf you’ve seen Home with Jim Parsons as the main character, weren’t you distracted hearing Big Bang Theory’s Dr. Sheldon Cooper but seeing a colorful little alien onscreen?  Made it a bit difficult to be drawn into the story, didn’t it?

Without recognizing every famous voice that is part of this production, I was able to see each character as a unique individual.  In other words, they were just a big-talking mouse, a terribly shy elephant, a desperate housewife pig, a teenage gorilla reluctant to join the family business, and a punk porcupine trying to find her own voice separate from a belittling boyfriend.  All of these are brought together by a has-been entertainment-producing koala.

Given the popularity of singing competitions in current pop culture, audiences of all ages will enjoy the familiar and predictable story line while tapping their feet along with the commonly popular songs.  I wouldn’t expect to see a sequel to this stand-alone.  The overall impact will probably be similar to Illumination’s earlier project The Secret Life of Pets. I’ll also be surprised if the stores are filled with various character-based toys and games.  It just didn’t strike me as a film that would hit that level of popularity with children.  The characters are cute, but not as cute as Illumination’s popular Minions.

The animation itself also struck me at several points as surprisingly detailed.  The details of the gorilla flesh and the flow of the porcupine needles at times seemed remarkably realistic, but you may not even notice this unless you’re a big animation fan like me.

Despite a slight slump in the middle of the movie where I was hoping they would just cut out some of the character development and get to the singing competition itself, audiences will enjoy this movie-going experience over the holiday season.

So when the holiday get-togethers become too much for you and you want to be entertained by something without a holiday theme, head on out to the movies and sing along with Sing.  You’ll definitely walk out with a pep in your  step and a song in your head.

Sing earns 3 out of 5 stars

Released by Universal Pictures, Sing arrives in theaters on December 21, 2016.


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