SING finds madcap happiness in ambition, dreams and song
I can’t think of a better movie to take kids to over the Holiday weekend than Sing. Really.
It doesn’t have the heavy hero quest overtones of Kubo (2016), nor does it have the silly frenetic complications of The Secret Life of Pets (2016). That makes it a very lightweight comedy to relieve some holiday stress either before the gifts are opened or after Christmas breakfast.
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)) is a businessman on a mission. Despite flop after flop in his so retro it’s still cool theater, he is determined to bring the Next Big Thing to the masses and things will totally turn around. The problem is he doesn’t have financing and his usual sources have turned up dry. He decides on a singing competition to get people through the door, but a gag glass eye inflates the prize and the dreams of all potential participants. Everyone turns out for a little star chasing and escapism. Rosita (Reese Witherspoon, Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)) is a tired mom who thinks rehearsals are easier than raising 25 kids (she’s not wrong). Ash (Scarlett Johansson, The Jungle Book (2016)) is a punk princess unable to remain in the shadows of her punker than thou boyfriend. Johnny (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)) would like to not end up a hardened criminal like his dad. Mike (Seth MacFarlane, Ted (2012)) is a mouse with an ego bigger than his expensive tastes. Finally, Meena (Tori Kelly, NBC’s The Voice) is too shy to overcome her stage fright, but finds a comfortable place backstage. These are theater people, and they recognize their own.
It seems like a lot of unique characters but every single one of them is an integral part of the story. They all play a role and their stories aren’t diminished by bigger voices or more important plots. Everyone’s ambition is just a little more than their realities can handle, yet everyone is willing to chip in to make the the whole thing snap together. Buster’s assist from rich but completely unwilling sidekick, Eddie (John C Reilly, Wreck-It Ralph (2012)) adds the right unintentional foil and landing spot for him when things go south – oh c’mon, you knew they totally would.
Like Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), this is a family movie that doesn’t dumb it down for the kids. Nothing is over-simplified and I appreciate it when I can watch family-friendly far that doesn’t diminish my IQ points in slow painful degrees. I also like a movie where I can’t immediately pick out who the actors are. They had fun in their characters and we had fun with them. Unlike Secret Life of Pets (2016) and The BFG (2016), which give us ambitious protagonists you’d like to see drowned in a burlap sack, you are rooting for Buster and his theater family to thrive. You marvel at his ingenuity and slick schemes, even when you know they’re horrible ideas. We’ve all had those ideas, we just don’t have the guts to pull them off.
The musical numbers are classic and current, some updated to give the movie a very vaudeville feel. I saw a lot of chair dancing around me during the rilly big shew finale, and I left feeling like I’d watched something fun. I want to take my family to see it this weekend so we can laugh about our favorite moments over sliders and sodas – it’s that kind for fun. At 108 minutes, it may seem a little long for very young kids and I’ll caution anyone who has issues with vertigo. Not as bad as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), but the zooming opening sequence and a few car scenes might leave sufferers feeling queasy. That said, it’s a movie worth smiling over and everyone should have a good time.
Sing is rated PG for brief fart humor, Russian bears chasing mice, and a building falling down.