Running-time: 110 minutes
Director: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly.
(Northern Irish Premiere, Belfast Odeon, 15/01/2017)
In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theatre impresario’s attempt to save his theatre with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists’ find that their lives will never be the same.
With everyone talking about La La Land at the minute I decided to check out a very different kind of musical this week, courtesy of Universal Pictures who invited BanterFlix to the Northern-Irish premiere of Sing at the Belfast Odeon. With an excited nine-year-old sitting beside me, although if truth be told I might’ve been more excited than him we sat in the cinema together, with him nursing a humongous bag of popcorn and watched the latest feature from the studio that brought us Despicable Me, Minions and last year’s The Secret Life of Pets.
I’d been looking forward to watching the film since I first saw the trailer on a previous trip to the cinema, who wouldn’t want to watch a movie where a pig has a proper ‘mum boogie’ through the aisles at her local supermarket, but much like The Secret life of Pets this film sadly doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its fantastic trailer.
It’s all run of the mill animated stuff, bright and fluffy and perfect for younger viewers, but older viewers (Like myself) might be left slightly underwhelmed. Yes there’s a barrage of one hit song after another and an array of dancing animals, but there’s something about it that just felt a little uninspired and more like a box-ticking exercise by the writers.
Set in a world just like ours but inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (McConaughey), a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theatre that has fallen on hard times. Determined to save his beloved theatre Buster decides to restore his theatre’s former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.
After many auditions five lead contestants finally emerge: A crooning mouse (Seth MacFarlane), a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) who suffers from stage fright, an overworked housewife (Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending her litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies and Ash (Scarlett Johansson) a punk-rock porcupine struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo (my personal favourite).
Released so soon after Zootropolis this film just doesn’t come close to matching that film’s magic, we’ve been spoiled by the good work of Disney and Pixar over the past few years, their writers display a fantastic level of subtlety within their writing that makes watching their films truly a family experience, there’s enough gags for children, parents and even grandparents within their films to keep everyone entertained. This isn’t the case with Sing, it’s firmly aiming itself at a much younger audience, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.
I remember when Minions was released so soon after Inside Out my partner was quite ‘sniffy’ about the film, claiming that Inside Out was a much better film for children as it didn’t talk down or patronize them, I remember telling him at the time “Sometimes a child doesn’t want subtlety, sometimes a child just wants to laugh at a fart-joke.”
So that’s the way I feel about this film, yes I might have found it a little underwhelming and it maybe lacks the rewatchability factor of other animated features, but doesn’t mean it’s a ‘bad movie’. As an artist myself there’s much to admire; the film’s visuals are wonderfully bright and shiny and the animators have anthropomorphized their CGI creations perfectly.
Yes the characters themselves are a little formulaic and stereotypical, but it’s hard not to be won over by this film’s charm and unrelentingly upbeat tone. I would tell everyone with younger viewers to give this film a go, it’s tries to make you smile and get you dancing in your cinema seat and in this current climate of doom and gloom what’s not to like about that.
As for my young companion, he said Sing was the best film he’d seen in a long, long time. As we left the cinema and drove home we chatted endlessly about the film, what were our favourite bits, who were our favourite characters and what were the best songs etc.
Isn’t that what going to the cinema as a family is all about?
A massive thumbs up from my young companion who was smitten from the first word and sat completely engrossed throughout the movie. For me the film might lack the magic of other recent animations it was a perfectly enjoyable film and one I’d still recommend for families with younger children.