Photo: Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Review: 'Sing' a bit wobbly at first but eventually finds the right note

Movie: "Sing"

Director: Garth Jennings

Runtime: 1 hour 48 minutes

Release: Dec. 21

Rating: C+

Based on the trailers that ran steadily over the holiday season, “Sing,” the latest from Illumination Entertainment, promised to be a lighthearted and entertaining animated movie with a token lesson of morality thrown in. In reality, “Sing” is separated into two parts — a dull and undeveloped first half and an unexpectedly tragic yet delightful second half.

The movie centers around a failing theater and a singing competition the theater’s owner, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), puts on to save his building from foreclosure. The supporting characters, voiced by A-list celebrities, each have their own insecurities and hurdles to overcome, which leaves the exposition of their stories a bit stale and cliche.

Reese Witherspoon voices Rosita, a stay-at-home mom and pig that gave up her dreams to raise an innumerable amount of piglets. Her relationship with the funky German pig Gunther voiced by Nick Kroll was by far the most entertaining, but Taron Egerton’s gorilla teenager, Johnny, was the most compelling.

Johnny is an stereotypical teenager that is torn between joining the family business and pursuing his own dreams. While it seems cliche at first, Egerton’s silky vocals and the genuine relationship development between Johnny and his father make him stand out in the large cast of characters.

I thought the character’s backgrounds were banal. I could not bring myself to fully invest in them. Although the rehearsals were mildly amusing, the slow pacing of the first 45 minutes kept me from being thoroughly entertained. 

he first half of “Sing” features many fun musical numbers and a few jokes that are clever enough to soar over the intended audiences’ heads, but the worn-out backstories and jumble of story building for so many characters left me indifferent.

About halfway through the movie — just about the point where I had given up all pretenses of caring — I was shocked. An unexpected tragedy wrenched my attention back to the screen. The plot deviated from the usual formula I was expecting from “Sing,” and immediately demanded I start to take an interest. The plot picked up from there and got exponentially more engaging.

The latter half of the film features your typical downfall and rise from the ashes storyline, but the cliches now seem genuine and the plot picks up steadily.

By the final musical number, I cared again, and while the ending wasn't anything new, the road the movie took veered into unexpected places.

The music was excellent — Scarlett Johansson’s angsty porcupine and Tori Kelly’s shy elephant deliver the best performances, but Seth McFarlane surprises as mouse crooner Mike with “My Way.”

“Sing” does not carry the emotional maturity of “Inside Out” or prompt allegorical thinking like “Zootopia,” but it is a children’s movie that does achieve its main goal — being entertaining and fun.  The soundtrack is great and is probably all you need if you do not feel like paying $10 to see “Sing” in theaters.



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