I can see where Garth Jennings is coming from, but it is a no from me.
By Katie Ray
Sing is an animated film that uses animal diversity to represent the expanse of people who take part in and watch broadcasted singing competitions. An obvious wave to the likes of American Idol and X Factor, the main character, Buster Moon, poses a striking resemblance to Simon Cowell in his appreciation of music that becomes corrupted for the purposes of business. Instructing people to “just SING!”, his mind is on the money throughout as he pushes singers out of their comfort zones and into glittering outfits. What has the potential to be a powerful and humorous satire, however, ultimately fails to be a memorable film in its attempt to do too much.
Offering an all-star line-up, the overarching storyline sees Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a vivacious businessman and theatre-lover, devise a singing competition to try and raise enough money to save his (literally) crumbling empire. From this point, the plot expands to cover the backstories of a handful of finalists, none of which feel like new news if you have ever watched ITV on a Saturday night. Of course, there is an underrated mum-of-many (Reese Witherspoon), an over-confident jazz singer (Seth MacFarlane), and a shining voice coming from an unexpected background (Taron Egerton), as well as the usual drama of mixed up rehearsal spaces, groups forced to split, and unnatural ‘up-styling’. As in real life, every contestant has a story and a reason why they need to succeed, whether it be prize money, recognition, or simply confidence.
Granted, the film has its strong points in its humour and choice of ear-worming songs, and the intention of the plot as a means to simplify the glamourised and excessive template of singing shows works successfully to a certain extent. We are introduced to each character with one continuous shot that zooms across the city to understand the viewpoints of both Moon and his contestants, largely without emotion-forcing soundtracks as we can see their pressures and motivations for ourselves.
However, it is in covering so many songs and storylines that Sing ultimately loses its appeal and edge. In an attempt to tell so many stories at once, the genuine moments of humour and emotion are prevented from having a lasting effect because each plot is constantly being forced forward. While gaps and lack of detail can certainly be forgiven in this context, the film cannot escape from feeling like an omnibus of a behind-the-scenes television show. As Eddie says, “Who wants to see another one of those?”
Overall, Sing is weak. Its fault lying in its attempt at presenting a message. Rooting its overload of side-stories in the recovery of Moon’s theatre falls short as, once again, there is no time left for depth in a central plot that has potential for an important allegoric meaning. Ultimately the over-ambition of the subplots here ironically undermine the film’s attempt to strip back the competition to become simply about singing, as the emphasis remains largely on the sob-stories right until the end, rather than on the enjoyment of sharing talent. It is an enjoyable but forgettable film.