The studio behind the global obsession with Minions takes a swing at American Idol-style human (or in this case cute animal) interest with Sing — a movie about a theater-loving koala who decides to host a singing competition as a last desperate attempt to keep his doors open.
That koala is Buster Moon, a smooth talking dreamer — voiced by Matthew McConaughey in a bit of casting brilliance — who just wants to make something beautiful. He scrapes together everything he has (and doesn’t have) to form a meager jackpot. But, as is wont to happen, a mixup raises the stakes and seemingly the whole of the city turns out to audition. Buster picks his contenders, and from there we follow the expected beats. There are false starts and conflicts and betrayals and discoveries and through it all, a lot of whimsical song and dance numbers covering Top 40 hits.
It’s cute and watchable, but even as Reese Witherspoon’s unassuming Rosita — a stay-at-home mom to a massive brood of piglets — begins to bust salsa moves in a grocery store to great fanfare, it’s difficult not to feel that more could have been made of the concept. Even a slam dunk group number when all is said and done is absent from the proceedings.
Seth MacFarlane, Scarlet Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Saunders all lend their voices to the collection of razzle dazzle sequences and amusing interludes. The assorted creatures make fans of us as they struggle to prepare for the biggest performances of their lives and it’s quite pleasant to jam along to tunes from Katy Perry, Sam Smith and Frank Sinatra. But, it never feels as though we’re doing anything much more than going through the motions.
Ultimately, we get a sweet story tied up with a bow. It even packs a strong message about the value of hard work, self-belief and friendship. Sing has all of the elements of a solid crowd-pleaser, and it will make many, many fans. But it’s not as fully realized as it might be. With a bit more inspiration and willingness to break from the formula, Sing might have been something very special. As it stands, it’s more of a one-note wonder.
If Illumination is looking to ascend to Pixar status, they have the stars and the style, but the substance still falls short.