Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Review of "Sing", or Zootopia Idol

For quite a while, movie fans think that the race for Best Animated Feature around award season would be between Zootopia and Moana.

It's still likely it'll be between those two movies, but a dark horse could be Sing from the guys who gave us Despicable Me. At the surface, it would be about a singing competition run by a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) with a Texas accent who hopes to get this theater out of a big financial hole. He's offering a prize of a thousand bucks, but it's accidentally upgraded to a hundred grand thanks to Moon's elderly assistant.

From there, the movie swoops to introduce the four main characters:  Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a  way too busy mom of 25 piglets, Mike (Seth McFarlane) , a mouse who's good with a sax but also sings like Sinatra, Ash (Scarlett Johansson) , a singer-songwriter who doesn't get respect from her musician boyfriend, Johnny (Taron Egerton) , a gorilla who would prefer to sing than steal despite what his gangster dad days, and Meena (Tori Kelly), an elephant with a killer voice but also stage fright. They all want something more out of life, and hope the contest will help them do just that.

While it's odd to see McConaughey voicing a koala who'll do anything to keep his theater open, you can't help but admire his enthusiasm. How he tries to get around unpaid utility bills is another matter. You feel for Rosita trying to balance motherhood and the contest, but also pleased with how she does it. Mike is a bit annoying in his arrogance, but he can sell a Sinatra classic. Meena helps out behind the scenes, and soon gets her shot on stage,

The story is very predictable, and there are some puzzling decisions. First off, Buster shouldn't have required the contestants to do specific songs, but maybe this is supposed to show that his shaky creative ideas led to his financial problems. They certainly hurt Ash's chances at one point. Also, Mike lies his way into getting a credit card, and almost winds up in the tummies of some angry bears. How come he doesn't use his sax playing as an edge? No one says he couldn't do that in the contest.

The big reason to see the movie is how these guys sing, especially in the final act when it looks like Buster's dreams are literally collapsing. Fans may be impressed by how Scarlett and Taron sound, for example. There's also a cameo voice early in the movie by Jennifer Hudson.
It may be a jukebox musical, but it's one that is done well. Sorry, J-Law and whoever is connected with Assassin's Creed, Sing hits more of the right notes for this holiday season.

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