by Scott Oakes
The prestigious setting of a seemingly luxurious theatre is the home and business of Buster (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) – an exuberant koala with a passion for performing arts and putting on a show. In doing so however, we see Buster owes money to his previous cast, crew and the bank in missed payments. Buster needs to find money fast and launches a singing contest to find the city’s best voices, with a grand prize of $1000 for the winner. The show will be a hit! However, his almost-prehistoric assistant Ms. Crawly (voiced by writer/director Garth Jennings) makes a disastrous mistake and scatters flyers around the city advertising a grand prize of $100,000 in what could possibly be the most expensive typo ever.
The film gets much of its overall appeal to its cast. The characters and their dialogue are what really anchor this story and you can sense that there were many missed opportunities for the actors to really be tested. Their work, while entertaining, feels as if it could have had a much greater impact with a less formulaic and more true-to-reality plot.
The film especially drops the ball in the callback scene. Voice-of-an-angel gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton) is dropped in favour of a giraffe, but, after less than ten seconds of Buster needing to shout so the giraffe can hear him, he admits defeat and replaces him with Johnny. Yes, all in ten seconds… Slightly comical it may have been, but how often do we see with such shows as X Factor, a contestant is sent home only to return weeks later as a ‘wildcard’? As an audience we knew Johnny deserves a place in the competition but we weren’t given sufficient time to even feel gutted for him.
An aspect that the film gets spot on with is the presence of Gunter (Nick Kroll), a German-accented pig whom Buster insists Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) must now work with. He is the epitome of the British talent contest. We have seen this kind of artist before; Rylan, Wagner and most recently ‘Honey G’, the ‘performer’ that we see week after week and seem to become more confused as to why they are even there. Gunter, as charming as he is, unfortunately has the voice of, well, someone like Wagner.
The only character we truly see put through his paces is Buster and it’s really quite comedic to see him bodge repairs for the theatre – he’s hanging on to all he has left in fear of disappointing his late father but the true spotlight is on his seemingly prehistoric assistant. Her glass eye that just won’t stay in its socket is the cause of the fatal typo that sparks the story and some mugs of coffee that should come with a chocking hazard precaution. The scenes that stem from her ailment are very clever and gained thunderous laughter from the cinema audience.
With all that said, it is easy to watch this film with high expectations given that Sing is from Illumination Entertainment, the same production companny as the Despicable Me films and, more recently, Minions. The animation, characters, voice actors and story were equally entertaining and full of heart but it appears as though Sing hasn’t quite captured that. Though beautifully animated, it has very few memorable moments. The film’s story is formulaic but it has to be said it is fun and a lot better than your usual dose of X Factor…
Dir: Garth Jennings
Scr: Garth Jennings
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings, Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz, Beck Bennett, Jennifer Saunders, Rhea Perlman, Leslie Jones, Jay Pharoah, Laraine Newman, Bill Farmer, Brad Morris, Adam Buxton.
Prd: Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy
Music: Joby Talbot
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Sing is out on Blu–ray, DVD and demand from 22nd May