From out of nowhere, French animation company Illumination arrived with their first film, Despicable Me, a movie that would earn over half a billion dollars. Then came the sequel to a tune of just under a billion and a spin-off that did 300 million more than that and now: Illumination is standing tall as one of the biggest family entertainment companies and a nice cash cow for Universal Pictures. Earlier this year, the studio would take a chance on an original, non-Minion related movie, The Secret Life Of Pets, and again were rewarded with another close to a billion dollar venture. It would be just as sweet for the next Illumination original to do a repeat of that with their second of the year, Sing, which has the movie genre base to do that.
Sing is multi-plotted movie with a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) at the center. A theater owner falling on hard times, Buster’s ambition to show the greatest show and draw in people to save his business prompts him to organize a musical competition for his last thousand dollars. Because of a mistake in printing, this number changes to $100,000 but he gets a mix of characters who make the cut for his show, each with their own different performing dream. Lonely housewife Rosita, a cocky street busker named Mike, gang buster Johnny, a moody teenager named Ash and a shy one named Meena. Oh, and of course they’re all animals, like a separate suburb in Zootopia.
To Sing’s credit, the voice cast works and the songs are fun and keep the audience engaged but, really, that’s all that it has going for it. The base of the story is so loose and formulaic that everything that comes after the setup is just connecting obvious dots. The tired mother sick of her home life? Done. The boy not wanting to follow in his dad’s footsteps? Yawn. The shy girl with pipes of gold? Come on now. In their least inspired effort yet, Chris Meladandri and the rest of Illumination wanted to make a catchy music filled movie and instead made a hollow facade of a film that feels like it’s pandering on a few levels.
This should have already been a dead giveaway in the beginning exposition after we are introduced to Buster and his problems, when we zoom through the city to visit all the different characters, but the film is pretty bloated. Too many characters with too many tired and retread stories make Sing run for almost two hours long. Now, I won’t say this bothered my own daughter, whose only adjustment was she ate an entire bag of popcorn instead of half to three quarters. No, this is for the untrained and non-movie critic’s child with a parent looking to just quiet a kid for a bit. Two hours is excessive, right? I really feel like the quality was lacking in what could have been a big music opportunity for a studio that, let’s face it, could eat a loss with no problem. I assume that when it comes to Sing I’ll just be screaming in the wind of the billion dollars it will make. I tried to warn you. 1.5/5