Friday, December 23, 2016

Sing - Review

Ambitious koala Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) seeks to keep his theater in operation by launching a singing competition with a huge cash prize. He gets a huge pool of amateurs looking to sing their lungs out, all with their own stakes in the game, but Buster's money woes, including a significant increase in the winning purse via a printing error, keeps him on his toes. SING wishes to be a monumental feel-good event of 2016, only to come out at the very end of the year and be undercut on nearly every front by its animated competition. The animal characters and their urban environment are better realized in ZOOTOPIA and the mixture of current and original pop songs is better handled in TROLLS. Even if you don't compare it to other animated works, the movie ends up being just a serviceable jukebox musical filled with a couple roaring tunes and a thin script despite a near two hour running time. Like a desperate stage director hiding in the wings, writer/director Garth Jennings, who cut his teeth making visually inventive music videos as part of the directing duo Hammer & Tongs, stretches out the proceedings beyond belief just to arrive at the predictable declarations of "feel the rhythm" or "listen to your heart" right before the Judy & Mickey-approved "let's put on a show!" finale. One of the most likely reasons for the slow plot progression is the noticeable lack of singing. Yes, the film called SING doesn't have a lot of people doing just that once the auditions are done. Because the story is designed to be a battle royale of belters, the makers realized that audiences might not be in the mood to sit through each and every competitor rehearsing their one and only song over and over again. So, they responded by leaving the long middle section of the movie bare of performed tunes and put more focus on Buster's search for more money. Hooray?! The all-star cast all do well with what they were barely given; only Scarlett Johansson as a porcupine rocker and Seth MacFarlane as a hustling, croon-singing mouse really get to shine and justify their vocal appearances. I'm a bit perturbed by this star-laden company, however, not due to my distaste of Hollywood's casting process of animated films but for the sheer fact that resident voice actress Tara Strong goes uncredited as a significant character yet Jennifer Hudson gets a prime slot despite being a very brief cameo in the film's very first scene. If you need a little pick-me-up and like to hear some fun songs, you could do a whole lot worst this holiday season than SING. But honestly, if you have experienced any of its commercials and trailers that bombarded the market this year, you've practically seen everything it offers and will not be surprised.


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