Sing is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated musical comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment. It was directed and written by Garth Jennings and co-directed by Christophe Lourdelet. The film stars the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Tori Kelly, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson and follows animals that enter a singing competition, hosted by a koala bear hoping to save his theater.
With the embarrassment of riches that the animated world has this year, it’s no surprise that Sing was one of the few nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature. It’s the rare jukebox musical that finds a way to make sense of switching tracks at a rapid pace, without letting any story beats get lost in the shuffle. More importantly, it’s a musical about following your dreams, and fostering a community of dream makers, so that they may continue to bring happiness to all. That’s a message we could all use this time of year, and Sing should go down as “the other brilliant musical” we got this December.
Up until now, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have had a lot of commercially successful films, thanks to the Despicable Me franchise and, most recently, The Secret Life of Pets. But compared to their latest effort, Garth Jennings’Sing, they really haven’t landed a film that both manages to entertain and emotionally resonate to the extent that this picture does.
Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has fallen on hard times. The theater he’d always dreamed of running is not making enough money to justify staying open, and as such he has creditors chasing him down from every angle. Yet when most others would give up, he decides to go all in and throw a singing competition. Many audition, but few make the cut, which leaves the competition down to a handful of contestants who have their eyes set on various prizes of their own.
In a year full of some of the finest animated product we’ve ever seen, Sing manages to stand out as it’s neither a franchise nor a typical children’s film. There’s no material objectionable to the kid audiences that’ll see it, but the film does manage to work with some themes that are better suited for a more mature audience. But Jennings manages to work those themes into his latest film effort as keenly as he has in past works like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Son of Rambow. While the film does start off a bit slow and disjointed, the overall picture begins to tighten up as it goes along, making for an extremely pleasing final product.
The mix in material only further stands out when compared to the rest of Illumination Entertainment’s line up, as Sing is probably their most ambitious film in terms of storytelling. While Despicable Me did bask in the warmth of parenthood, it discarded that for more comedic energy in its second outing. Not to mention, Minions and The Secret Life of Pets don’t even come close to the emotional weight that the firstDespicable carried. Yet with Sing, Illumination seems to have found its footing again, as the comedy doesn’t outweigh the actual joy of seeing these characters live their dreams, and vice versa. We can laugh with these characters, while at the same time actually caring about where they end up in the end.