Talking animated animals are big business over in Hollywood. After all, Disney’s Zootopia was one of only a handful of films to gross over $1billion last year. Its competitor, The Secret Life of Pets performed well but wasn’t critically successful.
Here, the company behind that second film, Illumination Entertainment, try to get the genre right with Sing. But are we looking at the next superstar of the animated genre?
Koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) presides over a once-grand theatre that has recently fallen on hard times. An eternal optimist, he loves his work enormously and will do anything to preserve it. Facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he takes one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing a singing competition, with eternal glory facing the winner.
There’s an impressive roster of talent on offer in Sing, something that parents will no doubt enjoy slightly more than the offspring they no doubt have to bring with them. With Matthew McConaughey taking the lead role, Taron Egerton, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Seth McFarlane to name a few all lend their voices. There’s even a role for Brit-favourite Jennifer Saunders as a grumpy old sheep, it’s not ground-breaking, but it’s immensely likeable stuff.
Illumination Entertainment has brought us the brilliant Despicable Me franchise as well as its ridiculously successful spin-off Minions, but they’ve been criticised heavily for relying too much on the funny yellow critters to cash their paycheques. Thankfully, bar the now infamous company logo, the tic-tac shaped creatures are nowhere to be found and Sing is a vastly entertaining movie, in spite of their absence.
Whilst it’s true that the animation lacks the depth or fluidity of offerings from Pixar, Disney, and Dreamworks, there is a certain charm to its simplistic colour palate that children will find endearing. The plot is woefully unoriginal but director Garth Jennings, in his first animated feature, utilises that well, cleverly referencing the many talent shows that feature on our television screens – including those we are sick of.
There are some moral lessons in here too. Tori Kelly’s stage-shy elephant Meena has a great story arc that sees her face her fears and embrace her talents, whilst Taron Egerton’s gorilla Johnny stands up to his criminal father and learns that a life of crime doesn’t always pay.
In fact, only Seth MacFarlane’s obnoxious mouse Mike fails to make an impact on the plot, with his berating of an asthmatic sheep in the cleverly produced opening sequence coming across a little crude in comparison to the rest of the script.
Overall, Sing is a great film to hold the kid’s attention as we approach the half-term holidays. It would be easy to criticise it for lacking an original story, but there’s more to offer here than a half-baked plot. It’s beautifully voiced and reasonably well animated. Illumination Entertainment may not have topped Zootopia, but this is their best offering outside of Despicable Me by a country mile.