Early in Sing, a minor anthropomorphic character voiced by John C. Riley asks, “A singing competition? Who wants that?” If the answer is you, the film is an adequate — yet ultimately forgettable — animated family-friendly product that is not as annoying as the trailer would have you believe.
The story follows a koala, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, thankfully not attempting an Australian accent), attempting to save his beloved theater from foreclosure by hosting a singing contest which will net the winner $100,000. Various species belt out popular songs before five finalists are selected, each with their own reasons for wanting to achieve fame and fortune. Housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) craves recognition beyond devotion to her oblivious piggy family. Porcupine rocker Ash (Scarlett Johansson) wants to impress her incredulous boyfriend. Pipsqueak mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane) needs to pay off mounting gambling debts. Sensitive gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) hopes to escape his criminal past, and shy teenage elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) yearns to make her family proud through her vocal gifts.
Snippets of 45 radio-friendly hits from the 1940s to today are belted out before it’s all over, but none are particularly impressive in terms of how they are presented. Music legend Stevie Wonder and newcomer Ariana Grande contribute one shared tune over the credits, but there is not much else new or different here other than perhaps the oddity of McConaughey singing a few lines of “Call Me Maybe.” Nick Kroll’s gregarious German dancing pig stands out due to his charismatic dance skills, while Seth MacFarlane’s version of “My Way” is a pretty straightforward interpretation of the Sinatra standard.
Anyone looking for something inspirational or entertaining along the lines of more original output from Disney should align their expectations more to the animation and kid-friendly humor of the Despicable Me movies, also produced by Illumination Entertainment. Those taking that advice might tap their toes to the music (as the family sitting behind me did), but ultimately Sing is little more than a truncated animal karaoke version of “American Idol” or “The X Factor” — minus any mean-spirited analysis of the talent.
There is no a great moral or important lesson to be gleaned from the proceedings other than the generic be-true-to-your-voice sentiment, but there are some catchy tunes from the voice actors attempting the songs. Preteens may enjoy the music; any adults along for the ride will not be insulted; and both groups will probably giggle at the inoffensive sight gags and singular fart joke. Beyond that, Sing is pretty much singing animals blandly interpreting radio-friendly songs. If you like that sort of thing, you will get what you pay for. If you want anything more original, go see Disney’s Moana instead. Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
Now Playing at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic Theaters of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande and UA Beaucatcher Cinemas 7.