The Moon Theater owned by koala Buster Moon is facing financial troubles. To save the theater, Buster thought of a singing competition. Because of a major clerical error on the amount of prize money on the fliers, the contest attracted a huge number of auditionees representing various musical genres. From the auditions, Buster chose a varied cast of talented performers.
Rosita is a housewife sow who is chosen to sing and dance in a number with the flamboyant boar Gunther. Mike is a gambling street musician mouse who sang jazz standards. Johnny is a gangster-in-training gorilla who sang with silky smooth soul. Ash is a rock princess porcupine who broke up with her less-talented and two-timing boyfriend to perform solo. Meena is a timid elephant Meena who had a voice like a diva, but suffered from crippling stage fright.
This new film from Illumination gives us yet another world of anthromorphic animals, like "Kung Fu Panda 3", "Angry Birds Movie" and "Zootopia" did earlier this year. Compared to the quality of the illustrations in similarly 3D computer animated "Zootopia," the artwork of "Sing" was rather more simplistic and less textured. Anyhow, there were impressive work on the background artwork on the theater and the stage. That squid tank scene was spectacular to behold.
Matthew McConaughey was an optimistic shyster businessman as Buster, but too bad we only heard a brief hint of him singing a Carly Rae Jepsen ditty. Reese Witherspoon played Rosita as a harried but efficient mother of 25 piglets, with her rhythm hidden by her fastidiousness. Seth McFarlane had the tough guy attitude we knew about his as raunchy teddy bear Ted, but I was pleasantly surprised by his slick Sinatra vocals.
Taron Egerton never gave us a clue in his breakout film "Kingsman" that he can sing like Sam Smith and Elton John -- amazing singing voice really! I was also unaware that Scarlett Johannson can also sing so well, and with that sexy rock growl to boot. 2010 American Idol reject-turned-2015 Grammy Best New Artist nominee Tori Kelly was another welcome discovery for me with her powerful rendition of soul classics.
Jennifer Hudson had a small but remarkable role as the singing voice of Nana Noodleman, the glorious black sheep diva who inspired Buster to develop a lifelong love for theater. Ms. Nana's speaking voice was done by Jennifer Saunders, who did not get to sing here even if she already showed off her singing talent as the evil Fairy Godmother in "Shrek 2". Veteran actor John C. Reilly took on a smaller role as Eddie, Nana's grandson and Buster's business partner, also non-singing, even if he already showed that he can sing in "Chicago".
Despite all these good things about the film, I did not really like a big part of it. I don't really mind the childish foolishness for which Illumination films are known for. But there were a lot of mean-spirited crime going on throughout the first two-thirds-- fraud and racketeering, bank robbery, casino cheating, thuggery and gangsterism -- unpleasant fare for me in a Rated G animated film. I did not like this aspect of the film.
Frankly, I only truly loved the film during its final one third -- the concluding concert! Those song numbers were really very well-executed and this part certainly saved the whole film for me, making everything else worthwhile. Rosita and Gunter's "Shake It Off" was so delightful, with her cute piglets and romantic aftermath. Johnny's "I'm Still Standing" was electrifying and that moment with his Dad was precious. Meena's "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" left me breathless in awe, I wanted to stand up and applaud. Really, for that concert scene alone -- bravo! 7/10.