By John Corrado
★★★ (out of 4)
Following their mega hit The Secret Life of Pets this summer, Illumination has delivered another animated winner with Sing, a fun and often joyful pop musical that is enlivened by its colourful visuals and likeable characters.
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a theatre-loving koala who is struggling to pay the rent on his failing theatre. So he stages a singing competition to try and bring in more guests.
But when the flyers accidentally go out promising a one hundred thousand dollar prize when he can barely scrape together a single grand, the turnout is enormous with numerous animals who all have their own reasons for needing the money and wanting to win.
There’s overworked mother pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), sensitive gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) who wants to break free from his father’s gang, very shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) who dreams of being a singer, porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who’s in a punk rock duo and wants to prove herself on her own, and conceited busker mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane) who sings jazz standards and plays the saxophone.
Juggling several narrative strands, Sing does a fine job of setting up its various characters and storylines right from the start, with the virtual camera swooping around to different locations and sometimes employing a striking single take effect, as we are introduced to all the main players. The animation is vibrant and colourful throughout, packing in many clever little touches and sight gags, including a delightful group of red foxes performing J-Pop. Laughs also comes courtesy of Miss Crawly (voiced by director Garth Jennings), Buster’s chameleon assistant who keeps losing her false eye.
Although it feels a bit long in the midsection of its 110 minute running time, and the story follows fairly predictable beats, Sing is a film that aims to please and entertain audiences of all ages, and it ultimately does just that. To give you an idea of what type of crowdpleaser Sing really is, I attended the film’s world premiere at TIFF, and the audience clapped after every musical number in the finale. It played like a live show, and I imagine packed theatres around the world might have the same experience.
The countless musical numbers are as rousing and toe-tapping as you would expect, impressively mixing in a ton of tunes both old and new to offer a damn near irresistible musical pastiche. The cast all do solid work in the singing department, with Taron Egerton in particular being a real find in terms of what a good voice he has. With a sweet message about never giving up on your dreams, Sing is a lot of fun, and a total crowdpleaser in every sense of the word. I was won over by its energy and charm.