By Laurie Coker
With the wonderful and whimsical musical La La Land hitting theaters for the adults, Illumination Entertainment delivers the animated feature Sing to entertain children and adults alike. With the expressive and fun voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reece Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Riley, Seth MacFarlane and Taron Egerton writer, and director Garth Jennings puts a little spring into the holiday season. Just in time to feel the first effects of cabin fever, parents get a reason to venture out to the movies.
McConaughey voices Buster Moon, an old time theater owner who dreams of the bygone days of variety shows and live entertainment. On the brink of closure, Moon looks for one great show to save this beloved stage. He decides to put on a talent contest, but a typo from his elderly assistant promises a prize of $100,000, money Moon doesn’t have. Enter the talent: Ash (Johannson) a moody, teen porcupine, Rosita (Witherspoon) a mother pig of 25 piglets trapped in a loveless marriage, Johnny (Egerton) the singing son of a bank robber, and other talented creatures to save the day. We get a black sheep, a Swedish spandex-wearing porker (Nick Kroll) with a penchant for Lady Gaga, and MacFarlane who voices a Sinatra-crooning mouse, a character slightly more annoying than MacFarlane himself. Crooning frogs, adorable Japanese kittens and a plethora of other delightful acts – all vying for the prize that will change lives.
It is all so much silly fun. While the story is hardly new, filmmakers manage to take tried and true and make it wonderfully fresh. Even the soundtrack – well-worn songs like “Call Me Maybe” and “Shake It Off,” and Tori Kelly’s shy elephant covering Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and Rosita belting out Katy Perry’s “Firework” makes for toe-tapping and head-bobbing excitement. There are more than 65 classic tunes in all – think Glee and America’s Got Talent, meets Over the Hedge.
Leading the way, McConaughey and this talented cast of voices can do it all – capturing personalities realized by gifted animators. Jennings even lends his voice to a couple of characters. Sing, in my book, outshines other animated features this year, like Trolls and Storks, because it entertains parents and children and is more than just bright colors and flashy imagery. It has heart – deserving a B+ from me.