With the reality show Celebrity Big Brother scraping the barrel for its celebrity detritus to such a degree that the bottom of the barrel has now been punctured the only way to improve the ratings would be to introduce a rabid Bengal tiger to the house. Now THAT’s entertainment! The same for The X Factor and all the other singing shows which seem to attract the bewildered, the bonkers mad or both and whose ratings seem in terminal decline. Again bring on the Bengal tiger!
This week’s release ‘Sing!’ doesn’t go quite as far but instead has a city populated with animals who find themselves drawn to a Matthew McConaughey voiced Buster Moon, a koala bear who’s also a theatrical agent with his own theatre and still looking for that elusive hit that will save his theatre from his bank creditors. He falls upon the idea of an open audition for singers with a top prize of $1000. Unfortunately his secretary, a geriatric lizard with a glass eye, has made a typo error on the flyers and the prize now reads $100,000 and much like the X Factor it attracts every delusional numbnut in the city.
From the very start we know who’s going to get to the finals as each are introduced in a super slick montage with the film ploughing headlong through the city stopping temporarily at each character and swiftly shown their own back story. So we have a gorilla reluctantly dragged into his father’s criminal gang of robbers, a piggy mum house bound with her 25 strong litter of piglets, an over confident street busker mouse and an acutely shy yet super talented elephant. They’re all shortlisted for the big finale until disaster strikes and each seems to be irrevocably destined to be heading back to their normal lives. The bank creditors loom large and repossess Buster’s theatre, the mouse finds himself in debt to some Russian mafia bears, the gorilla is drawn back into his father’s gang and so on. But Hey! This is Hollywood so that hoary old adage from ropey old 1930’s black and white musicals, though it’s never said, the line ‘Hey! Let’s put on a show , right here, right now!’never seems far away as that’s exactly what happens.
SING! is from Illumination Entertainment who are increasingly proving serous rivals to the films of the Pixar powerhouse and the company, who already have the Despicable Me, Minions and last years The Secret Lives of Pets under their belt, all of which have been huge box office hits and it’s likely to continue. Like a Disney films of old it uses animals as main characters though perhaps not quite as successfully here as there are none that are truly endearing with the mouse, suitably inspired by the real life Rat Pack and his crooning of Sinatra hits, being so egocentric as to make you root for the mafia bears to eat him. It’s the lesser supporting characters who are most fun – Gunther, a hopeless dancing pig sidekick and Nana, an old school diva long retired who Buster looks to for the prize cash. As voiced by Jennifer Saunders it’s a reminder of how great she is and how underused she is by all animators (her fairy godmother in Shrek 2 being an inspired piece of casting). The rest of the film is obligatorily voiced by other well known faces though indiscernible voices including Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson and Taron Egerton. If anything there are perhaps too many characters which perhaps the filmmakers themselves realise early on when they jettison a couple of the shortlisted acts.
Similar in scope to Disney’s megahit Zootropolis but without the subtext and with enough pop songs by Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and even old school classics to keep kids this may not be as big as Zootropolis but it’s zippy and uplifting.
Here’s the trailer…….