Sing (2016) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): It surely serves you lots of familiar songs

It is hard to be cranky about animation film “Sing”, which uses a bunch of various good songs like linoleum to cover up lots of its notable shortcomings on the floor. Sure, I could see through its many clichéd and predictable aspects right from the beginning, and my interest was always considerably decreased whenever the movie stops singing, but why should I grumble if it does eventually deliver what it promises to its audience?

The story, which is set in a city full of many small and big animal characters ranging from snail to whale, is mainly about one desperate attempt of a koala dude named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McCounaughey). Many years ago, he opened a big local theater with full of hope, but, alas, his theater business has been going down and down during last several years, and his beloved theater will be soon foreclosed by a local bank unless he can find any possible way to boost his business right now. In the end, he decides to hold a big singing competition, and he promptly has this event advertised all over the town, but there is one serious problem. Due to a little accident, the prize of the competition in the advertisement is changed from one thousand dollar to one hundred thousand dollar, and that surely draws lots of attention before he belatedly comes to realize that serious typo.

Anyway, lots of different animal figures come to the following audition, but we already know which one will be selected by Buster. They are 1) Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), a teenage mountain gorilla more interested in singing than participating his father’s criminal activities; 2) Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a frustrated housewife pig willing to pursue her old dream of being a singer; 3) Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a teenage crested porcupine punk rocker eager to go her own way instead of being the second banana to her rocker boyfriend; 4) Mike (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), a cocky white mouse white singer quite confident about winning the prize; and 5) Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), a shy teenage Indian elephant in the serious need of overcoming her stage fright for demonstrating her considerable singing talent.

After a series of amusing musical moments during Buster’s audition, these animal characters and a few selected others including a group of young Japanese vixens quite enthusiastic about singing and dancing go through the following rehearsal period, but, of course, things do not go that well for them and Buster right from the first day. While Johnny has to balance himself between the rehearsal and his, uh, family business, Rosita also must find a way to handle her domestic matters associated with her 25 piglets, and this smart lady soon concocts a rather ingenious solution for that. In case of Ash, she feels awkward about performing the songs selected by Buster, and her situation later becomes more complicated when she later finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her behind his back.

Meanwhile, Meena, who managed to be hired as a stagehand instead despite disappointingly failing in the audition, becomes more nervous when she subsequently becomes a replacement singer during the late stage of the rehearsal period. She surely wants to sing as getting all the encouragement from Buster, but she still has to overcome her emotional obstacle, and she naturally hesitates when Buster and others attempt to give a preview performance for a certain wealthy figure who may provide the necessary financial support for the song competition.

Around that narrative point, you can clearly see through where the screenplay by director/writer Garth Jennings, who also provided the voice performance for one of the supporting characters in the film, is heading. Yes, Johnny certainly comes to disappoint his father as focusing more on the rehearsal. Yes, Ash shows that she is much more fantastic when she sings her own song. Yes, Rosita discovers that she can dance quite well along with her flamboyant partner Gunter (voice by Nick Kroll). Yes, Meena eventually finds enough inner strength to overcome her fear. Yes, Buster comes to let down others a lot when everyone finally comes to learn of how poor he is.

Nevertheless, you will probably forget all these and other flaws of the film once Buster and his singers successfully put their shown on the stage in the end (Is this a spoiler?), and the songs selected for this part are performed fairly well on the whole. I particularly enjoyed Mike’s very committed performance of a certain classic song immortalized by Frank Sinatra, and I also appreciated some genuine poignancy in Meena’s expected showstopper moment.

In addition, the voice cast members of the film bring some extra colorfulness via their game efforts. While Matthew McConaughey dutifully holds the ground, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, and Tori Kelly have each moment to shine, and John C. Riley, Jay Pharoah, Nick Offerman, and Jennifer Saunders also have some little fun at the fringe of the story.

In conclusion, “Sing” is not that impressive compared to several notable animation films of 2016 including “Zootopia” (2016), “Moana” (2016), and “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016), but it is not a total waste of time thanks to its lively voice performances and a number of nice musical moments. This is a passable product which is not good enough for recommendation, but it is not entirely without fun and entertainment at least, so I will not complain for now.

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