Film Score ⭐1/2
Released by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 21st, 2016
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Scarlett Johansson
Written by Garth Jennings
Directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet
Rated PG (Some rude humor and mild peril)
An eclectic group of animals comes together on the promise of a shot at the $100,000 prize. The prize is a lie though. Moon’s secretary accidentally added two zeroes to the $1,000 prize that Moon wanted to offer. Moon goes with it anyways because he hasn’t had a turn out as big as the one that shows up to his theater that day.
This is the premise to Sing, the new film from Illumination Entertainment, the company that unleashed the minions onto us in the Despicable Me series and then tortured us by giving them their own film. The film tells an old story but tries to add something to it by it starring animals and it being a “karaoke film” like the Pitch Perfect films. The Pitch Perfect films had a reason to be “karaoke films” by having the actors be in an acapella group. Sing cheats by having the characters audition for a contest.
The reason that “karaoke films” are so popular right now is because people like to hear their favorite songs in films and not necessarily new songs. Want to hear a new song in a film? No? How about a song that you sing to in the car on the way to work? Yes? Good. We are going to make a whole film about this and put in as many songs as we can. During the audition scene, we get at least fifteen to twenty different songs. Some of the songs only last a few seconds, but I will be that the studio had to pay out the ass for them.
So the finalists for the contest/play are a mother pig (Reese Witherspoon), Seth Macfarlane as a
mouse, a porcupine with teenager angst (Scarlett Johansson), an ape who is unwillingly part of a group of thieves (Taron Egerton), an elephant who is scared to sing in public (Tori Kelly), and Gunter (Nick Kroll), a Swedish (I think) pig who has become the mascot of the film, but is the worst character of the film. All of these animals have talent and they want to win “prize” and then the film goes off the rails and loses itself.
Buster Moon wants to impress an old diva (Jennifer Saunders) into giving him the prize money by inviting her to a dress rehearsal of the contest/play. He even tells her that he has done something with the theater that will blow her mind. Moon then replaces the entire stage with a glass one. He fills it with water and hires a bunch of squid to perform in it. The diva sees this and is instantly impressed, that is until the stage collapses and all of the water destroys the building. The diva walks away and Moon is left with nothing. The contestants find out that there is no prize and they leave too.
I think that the film bit off more than it could chew. Promising a huge prize, knowing that Moon couldn’t pay it off is something that we see in these types of films all the time. It is when the theater is destroyed that the film loses us. The filmmakers already want us to believe that the contestants are going to side with Moon in the end because he has heart, but then they destroy everything that he has.
This could have worked if the filmmakers didn’t have the contestants show up and try to bring him out of his funk. These contestants put their lives on hold for a charlatan and the filmmakers expect us to believe that the contestants wouldn’t be mad. It should be Moon who is the one who has to win back the contestants, not the other way around. This makes the contestants look like they are weak and need to have Moon’s show to put some purpose into their lives. I know that is why the contestants joined, but have they not learned anything as the film went along?
The film isn’t very funny either. Maybe it is Illumination Entertainment’s brand of comedy that doesn’t jell with me very well, but the humor here is not very good. There is a fart joke that I chuckled at and some one-liners that kind of worked, but everything else falls flat. Moon’s secretary, an older Iguana, has a fake eye that she keeps losing. This could have been funny, but it just goes nowhere. Then there is Gunter. I hate this character. I guess that it is supposed to be funny that an overweight pig with an accent would be a “good” dancer, but he just comes off as nails on a chalkboard to me.
The singing is, of course, great. In fact, it is the one thing in this film that was generally enjoyable. Sure, most of the songs that the characters sing are unrecognizable to me, but they are sung well by the performers. I was actually enjoying myself during the songs, but then the plot had to come roaring back in when the singing was done.
2016 was not a great year for animated films, in my opinion. The year started off great with Kung Fu Panda 3, but then Zootopia came out and did little for me. We also got The Angry Birds Movie, Ice Age 5, Trolls, Storks, Norm of the North, and the God awful Sausage Party. The only other bright spots for the year were Finding Dory, Red Turtle, Moana, and the criminally unseen Kubo and the Two Strings. Why parents had to take their kids to see Sing instead of Kubo baffles me.
Sing is not a good film. The jokes fall flat and the plot is turned backwards. We should be rooting for the contestants, not feeling bad that they are delusional. The songs are the only bright point of the film but they don’t last too long. Do yourself a favor and show the kids Kubo and the Two Strings. They will thank you later for it.