Thursday, January 26, 2017


SING (Christophe Lourdelet and Garth Jennings, 2016)

Theater-owning koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is on the verge of losing his prized performance space. Buster puts on a singing competition as a last-ditch effort to save the theater in SING, but a mistake on the flyers promises $100,000 for the winner than the intended thousand bucks.

The purse attracts all sorts of wannabe stars to the auditions. Among those making the final cut are Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a pig who is unfulfilled as a mother and housewife; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla who’d rather be singing than helping with his mobster clan; heartbroken rocker porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson); and Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a crooning mouse with gambling debts. Shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) really wants to participate, but her stage fright holds her back.

SING is an animated comedy for two groups: those who love hearing five- or ten-second snippets of popular songs in celebrity karaoke and those who are really invested in AMERICAN IDOL’s audition episodes and storylines. It’s not bad per se so much as it is perfunctory. SING has a good tempo and enough familiar songs--or their hooks--to seem pleasantly mediocre. As it can be cut up almost infinitely into bite-size portions to promote it, a cynical view might lead one to see its value as a product to help pad a studio’s bottom line, not as anything with aspirations of being more than content. All it needs to do is look sufficiently cute amid the clutter of advertising to take the kids to it.

Some of the voice casting choices are curious, especially McConaughey as a koala. Wouldn’t Chris Hemsworth have provided the star power and a more geographically sensible pick? But then this feels like something created and assembled by a computer algorithm than by artistically motivated people. SING is the simulation of what blockbuster children’s entertainment is supposed to look and sound like.

SING's best joke by far is that brief moment when a sheep bleats the first word of the chorus from Seal’s "Kiss from a Rose", although the animal chosen to perform seems like a missed opportunity for the type of inside joke for adults that these movies love to wink with. The hammy, German-accented pig Gunter (Nick Kroll) is sporadically amusing. Parents who want to get out of the house or distract the kids would be better served going to MOANA again than patronizing SING.

Grade: C

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