“Sing” boasts some great things–a fantastic cast of voice actors and an impressive list of hit songs that will have you tapping your feet and a finale that’s a show-stopper. But, that’s where all the great things end, unfortunately. Aside from its “Despicable Me” series, Illumination Entertainment’s animations, which also include this year’s “The Secret Life of Pets,” don’t sit at the top of the list. There’s a bit of fun to be had with “Sing,” but its use of multiple anthropomorphic characters to tell a simplistic “American Idol” kind of story doesn’t ring true. It’s two-dimensional and this gets in the way of it being any more than a blip on the radar of memorability.
Buster Moon (voice of Matthew McConaughey) has always been in love with the theater, but the legendary theater his dad bought him is tanking. It needs major repairs and doesn’t quite draw the audiences it used to. The bank is constantly breathing down his neck for money owed and he’s at his wit’s end. In one final ditch effort, Buster calls aspiring singers to audition for a monetary reward believing that will draw a crowd and bring people back to the theater. What he gets is far more than Buster could have hoped for.
The voice cast includes Scarlett Johansson, Reese Witherspoon, singer Tori Kelly, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, and a plethora of others. Sadly, it’s one of those films that ends up banking more on its cast than on its story. On the surface, “Sing” is a feel-good animation. It covers a lot of themes, which include that of being yourself, if you dream big enough, things will happen for you, and of course the underdog story. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with these themes. In a lot of ways, it speaks to a younger audience.
However, it isn’t that the story is simple or the themes aren’t good enough. It’s the way directors Christopher Lourdelet (“Despicable Me 2”) and Garth Jennings (“Fantastic Mr. Fox”), who also wrote the script, decided the story should play out. By choosing to focus on multiple characters at once, “Sing” loses any semblance of depth. There’s no one to root for and the tired tales of singers finding their voices are, in this case, tiresome and unappealing. All the characters are not fully developed and very one-dimensional. Their backgrounds are all brushed aside and individually, their stories aren’t compelling enough to watch play out for an hour and a half.
Ultimately, “Sing” isn’t really all that engaging and tries to be fun but doesn’t quite hit the right notes. The characters are cute, but forgettable, and the only time the film is entertaining is in the end when everyone comes together to put on a great show. There are too many characters and they all kind of get lost in the crowd. Because of this, there aren’t any particular moments that stand out and when certain characters reach a turning point in their individual stories, it falls flat. Only the grand finale is full of life, music, fun, and lights up with a sense of joy that the rest of the film sorely lacks.
"Sing" is two-dimensional and this gets in the way of it being any more than a blip on the radar of memorability.