With less than a week left in 2016 and “Sing“, Illumination‘s second film of the year, released just in time for the holidays. Boasting an impressive voice cast mixed with familiar actors/actresses as well as professional singers this promised to be a truly memorable event… right?
I was pretty intrigued after seeing the initial trailer as I’ve been rooting for Illumination to start departing from it’s home run franchise “Despicable Me“/”Minions,” and begin experimenting with other original content. But as more and more teasers came out, my excitement started to dwindle as it’s trailers started to showcase more of the same gags while practically revealing the entire plot line and what I assumed to be big reveals of the movie (especially in the 3rd trailer).
First off, a singing competition as the main premise? We’re about 5-8 years too late for that train. Even the Sheep character voices that no one wants that in the movie. Secondly, most if not all the characters are very one note and only one or two exhibit real character growth. Third, the film definitely had a tone problem; couldn’t decide if it wanted to be taken seriously or be just fun and silly.
Lastly, Buster Moon, the Koala, is the main character and we’re supposed to like him/empathize with him when the chips are down and I just didn’t. This wouldn’t be a problem if he were a villain, but Buster supposed to be the optimistic “down on his luck” hero character and I just found him irresponsible, reckless and had more in common with a conman than a struggling business man. The first scene with him as an adult is him avoiding his staff because their checks bounced and then dodging calls from the bank. That’s not quirky. The main character is self centered and pretty shady no matter how well intended they try to make him appear.
I had similar issues but to a lesser degree with Eddie, his Sheep friend, and the fedora wearing Mouse, Mike, voiced by Seth MacFarlane Eddie was the slacker friend but I appreciated that he didn’t try to enable Buster’s poorly executed schemes. Mike is a crooner which is pretty hilarious if you know of the Family Guy creator’s affinity and classical training in that style of music. However his character was rude, boisterous and demeaning to most if not all the characters. Sadly he didn’t really have any growth outside of swooning over Meena’s performance. He didn’t really learn a lesson.
Speaking of Meena, a shy Elephant with powerful vocals,Tori Kelly provided her voice and nailed her timid interactions with the contestants as she gradually came out of her shell. I loved her character design of hiding her face with her ears except when she sings or wears headphones. Taron Egerton also did a great job as Johnny the Gorilla who’d rather sing than be a part of his father’s gang. His story arc however was underwhelming in the end as his father only accepted him after seeing his performance broadcasted on TV. Did he really never hear his son sing before??
Like I mentioned before the movie had issues picking a tone. I couldn’t really feel sad for any of the characters because the story felt so scatter brained, and having Buster as the main focus is what hurt it in my opinion. The story lines for the ten or so characters were spread so thin that when something tragic happened I just didn’t care. Rosita the under appreciated housewife Pig was the only one that felt somewhat developed because you spent the most time with her outside of the rehearsals. In the end there were so many “main” characters that it felt like an oversized KPOP group then having to pick a favorite member based off of one random quirk you know about them.
While Sing is far from being the worst movie of the year it came up fairly underwhelming for me. All that money they spent on using 100+ popular songs for brief puns or visual jokes could’ve gone towards a better screenplay. The look and feel of the film was fine. Lovely animation, fun character designs, strong cast, but for me 80% of the jokes didn’t land. Any connection to the characters was surface level. However if this means Illumination is going to start dabbling in animated musicals, in the future this one was a good jumping off point.
In the meantime if you’re REALLY yearning for a movie with singing and dancing animals just watch Cats Don’t Dance. While it’s still flawed it has a more focused plot with clear cut main characters and a super charming supporting cast, better timing/pacing, and plenty of catchy original music. However if you want to see some red pandas singing Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s “Ninja Re Bang Bang” then watch this.
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% (6.5/10 average)
Budget: $75 Million | Box Office: $129.9 Million*
[Based on stats as of December 28th 2016]
Release Date: December 21st 2016
Studio: Illumination Entertainment
110 Minutes | Rated PG
Director: Garth Jennings
Writer: Garth Jennings
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, & Scarlet Johansson
*Budget and Box Office numbers pulled from BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Did you see Sing? Did you like their use of cover songs? Do you want more animated musicals by non-Disney studios? Comment below or tweet me @teriarchibbles!
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