TIFF 2016: Garth Jennings' 'Sing' is a Crowd-Pleasing Musical for All
by Marco Cerritos
September 17, 2016
An extravagant singing competition brings many different creatures of all kinds together in the animated musical Sing, one of the biggest question marks of this year's Toronto Film Festival. However, it turned out to be an enormous surprise once the closing credits started rolling. It's a huge crowd-pleaser and the best family film since Disney's Zootopia, blending a traditional underdog story with gorgeous animation and of course tons of fun. Sing is also the latest endeavor from Illumination Entertainment, the animation studio responsible for Minions, Despicable Me and this year's The Secret Life of Pets. The company is certainly growing with each new project and Sing could be the breakthrough that makes them a household name.
As for the film itself, Sing is rooted in simplicity which isn't a bad thing at all. Much like the aforementioned Zootopia, Sing takes place in an animated environment fully populated by various types of animals, both cuddly and dangerous. The story is lead by koala Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), a slippery entrepreneur with a soft-spot for musical theater. The run down location he owns for performances is in danger of being repossessed so as a last-ditch effort he concocts a singing competition to save the day. He expects a healthy number of participants but not the overflowing number that eventually crowd his stage due to a typo in the promotional flyer (his secretary mistakenly put the prize money at $100,000 instead of the more modest $1,000). Once word gets out of the big financial reward everybody wants a shot whether they have the vocal pipes or not.
This is where Sing turns into an animated hybrid of "American Idol" crossed with A Chorus Line, and also where the real entertainment begins. The film's all-star voice cast is led by McConaughey but also includes Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Seth MacFarlane and Taron Egerton all playing determined creatures out to win it big and chase a dream. From a stressed out pig and a feisty mouse to a depressed gorilla looking to not follow in his family's criminal footsteps, all the major creatures in Sing have their stories told before culminating in the film's flashy musical climax.
Director Garth Jennings (of Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and his production team have a blast assembling this finale in which our characters come together and literally bring the house down, singing everything from pop hits to golden oldies. It's a visual and aural feast onscreen but must have been a clearance nightmare to plan behind-the-scenes since so many real-life artists (and their well-known songs) are represented. Sing is crowd-pleasing entertainment with sometimes enough sugar to kill a diabetic but if you're looking for fun and escapist fare this is your golden ticket. Families in particular will have plenty to smile and dance about seeing this on the big screen. Just be kind to your film-going neighbors when you start tapping your feet in the aisles.
Marco's TIFF Rating: B+
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