Verdict: It’s fine but not great, like a cinematic ham sandwich. It has catchy songs, a big cast, and is pretty enough. Catch it at the cheap seats if you want something light and fun without having to think much. Like at all.
Synopsis: “When a koala impresario (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is in danger of losing his grand theater after one flop too many, he hatches a plan to stage a gala singing competition to save the day. But when a typo inflates the grand prize to 100,000 dollars, the contest attracts the attention of a number of singing animals, including a harried pig mom (Reese Witherspoon), a teenage gorilla (Taron Egerton), a shy elephant (Tori Kelly), and a punk porcupine (Scarlett Johansson).”
The Good: Good songs, Egerton had a standout character
In a movie that’s called Sing, about singing, where people sing, it’s pretty important for the songs to be good. And they are! It’s really fun to hear the cast sing these songs too, especially Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon.
There’s one plot line involving Taron Egerton’s character and his father that is really strong and hits home when it reaches its conclusion. None of the rest of the stories are inherently bad, with a wide range of character types that provide a very familiar and relatable group of folks, despite them being animals.
The Bad: Took far too long to connect to characters, unearned character endings and arcs, not that funny
As fun as the characters eventually become, it doesn’t happen till about 2/3 of the way through the film. Before that point, it’s a slog through far too many storylines that aren’t given enough attention because so much of it is spent on Matthew McConaughey’s koala and his tangential plots. You only end up caring about the characters because you recognize their character archetypes: shy girl, dream hungry mom, talented jerk, etc.
That talented jerk character is the mouse, voiced by Seth Macfarlane, who uses his incredible talents to dole out Sinatra songs. He’s a sort of unwitting antagonist for part of the movie, but there is so much time spent on him, you’d think he was the second main character. He is consistently terrible like an antagonist should be, but the story delivers him a happy ending anyway, despite absolutely no character arc being established because….I don’t know why.
The biggest flaw is the amount of time spent on McConaughey’s character, without first building him up as someone we should care about. He owns the theater, but in all respects seems like a jerk and is clearly poor at this job, so why should we care? The movie later sets up the emotional weight behind his actions, and in part redeems him, but it feels too little too late.
Also, it just wasn’t that funny. Which it felt like it was trying to be, but fell flat. Now, I’m not the intended audience for this film, kids are. But the kids sitting around me got bored about half way through, and I swear to you didn’t laugh until about an hour in when I did. It could have gone the route of Zootopia, and really used the animals in a way to tell some funny jokes, but that also didn’t happen till more than halfway through.
The Ugly: Only one POC in the primary cast, Bechdel-failing despite having many women voices
McConaughey, Witherspoon, MacFarlane, Johansson, John C. Reilly and Egerton: wow is this a white cast. Talented? Absolutely. But the fact that there is only one major non-white voice (Tori Kelly as Meena), and she voices an elephant, is telling. It also fails the Bechdel Test, despite having so many women characters.