Who was it who likened the theater to a seductive enchantress preying upon men’s souls and capturing their hearts and imaginations? For Buster Moon, it was definitely love at first sight when his father first took him to the theater when he was barely older than a joey. The impressionable koala was entranced by the rich scenery around him so much so that it became his dream to one day run the majestic theater. After years of hard work and penny-pinching by Buster and his old man, he was finally able to open Moon’s Theater to “all creatures great and small.” However, running the theater proves to be slightly more than he can handle. In no time at all, the seemingly never-ending upkeep required on an old theater has all but drained Buster’s pocketbooks. He begins dodging calls from his creditors and bill collectors, all while trying to come up with a scheme that will be a big hit. For you see, a big hit would be the very thing that could save Buster’s dreams from unraveling at their gossamer seams.
Sing is the latest animated feature from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment (the studio that brought you The Secret Life of Pets earlier this year). Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jay Pharaoh and Jennifer Hudson, Sing tells the story of one koala with a dream (McConaughey with an adorable accent) who awakens the dreams of an entire town. That “big hit” that Buster was looking for to save his theater comes to him in the idea of holding a singing competition at his theater. Hey, it works for American Idol and The Voice, right? Buster manages to scrape together $1,000 to give away as the grand prize, but his near-blind secretary Miss Crawly (voiced by Sing‘s writer Garth Jennings) accidentally lists a $100,000 grand prize on the fliers for the competition and hilarity ensues.
Anyone who’s ever aspired to be a singer or songwriter turns out for the auditions at Moon’s Theater. Among the top contenders for the grand prize are a soulful gorilla named Johnny (Egerton) who doesn’t want to end up part of his father’s criminal gang, a punk-rocking porcupine (Johansson) named Ash who realizes she’s far more talented than her limelight-hogging boyfriend, an egomaniac mouse named Mike with a bad attitude but, admittedly, the Rat Pack-esque talent to back up his enormous ego (MacFarlane), a harried housewife pig named Rosita (Witherspoon) who’s tired of feeling ignored by her husband Norman (Nick Offerman) and their 25 piglets, a flashy, Spandex-wearing pig named Gunter (Nick Kroll) and an elephant named Meena (Kelly) who has a powerful voice matched only by her powerful case of stage fright. Who will manage to take home the grand prize? And will there even be a grand prize to take home when it’s all said and done? And what will become of Moon’s Theater? Will it ever recapture the magic and limelight that it enjoyed when Nana the Sheep (played by Jennifer Hudson when she’s younger and Jennifer Saunders when she’s older) once graced its stage? (I could really relate to Buster, as I’ve been enchanted with old theaters since I was a kid too. While I know they’re far too expensive to maintain, it’s always been my dream to someday be married in one.)
For those who think this movie is only about capitalizing upon the popularity of reality singing competitions or the majestic animal kingdom seen in the massive hit that was Zootopia, I think they miss the mark completely. It’s about looking deep inside yourself, discovering your inner talents and dreams and conquering your fears that get in the way of you achieving those dreams. Aren’t all of us seeking some form of approval from someone, whether it’s our family, spouse or society as a whole? How many of us can relate to Rosita who slaves away caring for her home and children only to have a husband who comes home from work and falls asleep in front of the television with barely a word to her? Or what about Johnny who’s being forced into the family business when he knows that isn’t what he really wants to do with his life? Or what about Meena – how many of us are cursed with “George McFly Syndrome” and are too afraid of failure or rejection to allow ourselves to even try? Sing does a good job of awakening the hidden dreams of many, both on the screen and I’m sure among the kids and kids-at-heart in its audience.
To quote Taylor Swift, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate,” but the cast of Sing will probably be able to just shake it off. The children around me in the theater all seemed to appreciate the movie – one behind me a bit too loudly. And the truth is I haven’t enjoyed an animated feature nearly as much in quite a while myself. It may not have all the social commentary that Zootopia produced in spades, but it’s as fun as bubble gum pop music and what this depressing, politically-charged world needs more of right now is fun. Anything that begins and closes with my favorite Beatles song “Golden Slumbers” is okay in my book. They certainly spared no expenses in the musical samplings found in this movie – everyone from Frank Sinatra and Elton John to Carly Rae Jepsen and Sir Mix-a-Lot is represented in entertaining snippets of song and dance. And this movie only strengthens my crush on Taron Egerton all the more. What the movie needed more of hands down was Johnny’s singing. I would have to agree with Roger Ebert when he said the rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” sent shivers down my spine. (If that’s really his voice, he’s the complete dreamboat package! Just try not to fall in love with Johnny’s character.)
So, if you’re looking for an amusing movie to soar your holiday spirits that’s also family-friendly this year, I highly recommend Sing. Just try to walk out of the theater without at least one of its many earworms stuck in your head. I triple-dog dare you. It left me in the mood to sing and dance – and unleash my inner diva – despite the miserably cold temperatures surrounding me. There’s a song in everyone’s heart that’s just waiting to come out and be played. If only more of us would take the time to listen to that inner song and share it with those around us, perhaps the world would be a better place.
Want to see Sing and decide for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!