Stacking itself plentiful with a heft of pop songs ranging from the classic sounds of Lennon & McCartney to the modern screech of Lady GaGa, Sing is a jukebox musical of sorts that’s suitably bold and bright. Seemingly content not reaching for critical acclaim in the same vein as recent animated offerings like Zootopia, this somewhat old-fashioned tale isn’t a musical in the traditional sense, but allows plenty of showy numbers to liven up the relative two-dimensionality of it all.
Armed with a can-do attitude to offset his monetary woes, musical producer koala Buster (voiced by a sprightly Matthew McConaughey) attempts to save his crumbling theatre by staging a singing competition, and thanks to a bungle from his glass-eyed iguana secretary (voiced by director Garth Jennings) the event is advertised with the promise of $100,000 – a far cry from the $1000 Buster is able to offload.
Animals from across the film’s vast cityscope come to trial for Buster, allowing the film to indulge in the back-catalogue of pop music with an extended sequence of auditions that range from a trio of sequined rabbits performing Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ to a goat bleating through ‘Kiss From A Rose’ by Seal. As entertaining as that highlight-reel is, it’s the main players like Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane and Taron Egerton that earn the most ear-play with each performer proving just as ample a singer as they do an actor; though it’s only Egerton who truly surprises with his lush rendition of The Zombies’ ‘The Way I Feel Inside’ as Witherspoon, Johansson and MacFarlane have all delved into music before. Perhaps the most impressive though is singer Tori Kelly whose booming voice is enough to send goosebumps over your body thanks to her shy elephant Meena overcoming stage-fright to belt out the Latin-infused Stevie Wonder number ‘Don’t You Worry ‘bout A Thing’ to a worthy standing ovation.
With Sing impressing in both its soundtrack and voice cast, it’s a shame that its plot can’t rise above the most basic boundaries with the singing competition and Buster’s woes in potentially seeing his theatre close down essentially providing the meat of the story. A few B-side plots regarding Witherspoon’s over-worked pig Rosita struggling to balance her home-life due to her lazy husband (Nick Offerman) and Johansson’s rocker porcupine Ash wanting to emerge from the shadow of her musician beau add very little weight overall, although the film comes close to earning some emotional points thanks to Egerton’s gorilla Johnny’s plight in needing the prize money to spring his (disapproving) thug father out of jail.
Despite the lack of overall juice that Sing can squeeze, there’s no denying at how much fun the film is. The humour appears more catered to older audiences (a “wash and dry” sequence involving Buster pimping himself out to wash cars is likely to go down as one of the funniest of the year) but younger viewers will lap up the musical numbers, certifying the film a pleasant outing for families this holiday season.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Sing is in cinemas from Boxing Day.