Animated Musical ‘Sing’ Hits a High Note


Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me, The Secret Life of Pets) once again released another children’s movie with the launch of Sing, a musical that takes place in a Zootopia-esque world of animals. Sing follows koala Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) as he struggles through difficult financial situations for his theater. In a last-ditch attempt to stay in the show business, he launches a singing competition, attracting unlikely contestants such as Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk musician porcupine constantly overshadowed by her boyfriend, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla trapped by his life as the son of a crime boss, Meena (Tori Kelly), an elephant plagued by shyness, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a jazz-playing mouse who works as a street musician, and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), the harassed mother of 25 piglets.

Despite a simplistic talent show plot, Sing still manages to capture the audience’s attention by smoothly weaving the backstories of the characters into the main story. The characters were likable with real-life problems, providing a good message for children: Ordinary, seemingly small-scale problems are still problems, and you don’t have to be a flawless hero to overcome them. I found myself actively cheering on the characters as the movie progressed and was not disappointed by the ending, which neatly although a little predictably wrapped up the story.

Despite the outstanding backstories of most of Sing’s characters, I found Mike’s personality extremely grating. The movie writers seemed to purposefully make the arrogant mouse musician a “bad guy,” including scenes where Mike harassed an asthmatic monkey and taunted the elephant contestant Meena. However, despite these characteristics, Mike still seemed to be a protagonist, making me question what message the directors were trying to send to the audience.

The main highlight of the film, however, was the songs. Sing provided a wide variety of covers of musical genres across different periods of time and also included Ash’s original song, Set It All Free. I was especially impressed by Tori Kelly singing as Meena, with pieces such as Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing. The overall high quality of the songs, even during the auditions for the singing competition, however, proved a little confusing, making me wonder why certain contestants were chosen over others. Characters appearing in the trailers, such as the boar (singing Crazy Town’s Butterfly), the snail (Christopher Cross’s Ride Like the Wind), and the rabbits (Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda) didn’t necessarily make it to the singing competition, which was somewhat of a disappointment for me.

Despite its flaws, Sing still proved to be an enjoyable and unexpectedly emotional view. Combining light-hearted humor, highly relatable characters, an acceptable plot, and excellent music, Illumination Entertainment has managed to create a children’s movie that also can meet the expectations of audience members at any age.