Review: Sing

Illumination Entertainment’s big Christmas hitter, more often than not, hits all the right notes and will provide a formidable challenge to Moana for holiday supremacy in Australia. Sing shows the studio putting a little more substance in with the rapid fire pop culture references resulting in a considerably substantial family animated romp.

It’s almost a case of you can have your cake and eat it, too! for Illumination as Sing takes a much stronger step closer to the sort of dramatic resonance that you generally find in Disney films. That’s definitely not to say that writer/co-director Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) doesn’t know how to have fun with this very similar to The Muppets reboot (infused with American Idol) premise. He most certainly does and, given the film runs 108 minutes, it never feels its duration.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), theatre owner and eternal optimist, is looking down the barrel of his dilapidated performance house closing its doors for good. Seeing his only option to save the place as running a singing competition, Moon invites anybody and everybody to audition. In response we are introduced to a sea of wildlife who represent all different corners of the American cultural diaspora such as Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), Mike (Seth MacFarlane), Ash (Scarlett Johannson), Eddie (John C. Reilly), Johnny (Taron Egerton) and Meena (Tori Kelly).

With a song roster that includes Shake It Off, Set It Free, My Way, Hallelujah, Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing, Golden Slumbers, Call Me Maybe and Faith, there’s plenty of recognisable sound bites that the kiddies and their parents will tap along to.

Whilst the film’s opening two acts are very par for the course in terms of narrative structure, Jennings does some uniquely impressive things during them before launching into a rousingly spectacular final act. There’s peppered humour all the way through the film but what impresses in Jennings’ willingness not to shy away from the harsher elements of competition singing. The film does broach losing and failure, it also gives some shade to several back stories that increases the emotional heft of these journeys. With this substance, all being built into the film before the finale, Jennings has captured what has alluded Illumination Entertainment’s more recent efforts of The Secret Life of Pets, Minions and Despicable Me 2 – he’s captured resonance. For all its showiness, quippiness and pop savviness, there is a heart the underlies Sing and it is a welcome one.

Zappy, sassy, high energy and full of life, Sing is a substantial, wholly entertaining family film. There’s lots to like, plenty to sing along with and a refreshingly healthy amount of meat on the bones in the plot to give older viewers something to latch onto, too!