Sing is an animated movie about overcoming insecurity. I can barely express how much I love it.
Before I start, let me say that I can be a cynic, but disliking Sing is as tough as disliking The Sound of Music. Basically, good luck.
My nephew is three and all he wants to watch is superhero films, which is my fault entirely. But I'm trying hard to show him other stuff, and that is how I stumbled across Sing on Netflix. Honestly I was put off by the fact that it appears to be about a singing contest. It is not about a singing contest.
Buster Moon is a koala who grows up loving a theatre that he eventually takes over. But he has not had even one hit show and the theatre is on the brink of repossession. Buster is plucky and feels he can fix things. He comes up with a final bid for success: a singing contest!
Now, I know what you're thinking. I just said it's not about a singing contest. And it's really not. It does start out that way, but slowly we realise that it's about much more. It's about a ragtag bunch of anthropomorphised animals who, for one reason or another, feel that they are worthless or unappreciated. There's a pig who has twenty kids and a zombie husband, a shy elephant, and an abused porcupine, to name a few. Together they learn that they have value, that they can be happy, and that the world can be a better place.
Not all the animals are insecure. There is a vast array of personalities, and honestly they are fairly two-dimensional. This is to the film's benefit; we can all recognise parts of ourselves and people we know in each character.
So far, so emotional, but I must mention that Sing is also hilarious, exhilarating, and full of a jaw-dropping number of smash hit pop songs from the last fifty-odd years. What I thought was a humble indie animation is actually a huge studio project that was in the works for many years before its release. And because all the best animators in Hollywood work for Pixar and Disney, Illumination (the makers of Minions) created Sing entirely in France with European animators.
Being a big studio project meant that it could secure a delightful library of songs you know, and songs you've forgotten. I have struggled to get the Beatles' Golden Slumbers out of my head for weeks.
It also means that the cast list is impeccable. Only after I watched Sing for the first time did I realise that Buster is played by Matthew McConaughey! Other big names include Reese Witherspoon, Scarlet Johansson and John C. Reilly.
The stand-out character for me—and the one that makes me cry just thinking about him, for reasons I can't quite fathom—is Taron Egerton's Johnny. He is a gorilla whose father leads a gang of Cockney gangsters (in America for some reason) that Johnny is expected to join. His interest in singing is ignored by his narcissistic dad. Taron Egerton is a terrific actor and perhaps an even better singer. Johnny's look, style and attitude is my way in to the movie—a combination of aspiration and identification that somehow overwhelms me. Other viewers will no doubt identify strongly with other characters.
My other favourite thing is a magnificent troupe of five Japanese red pandas who sing to a high-tempo, saccharin, Japanese pop backing track. They are sorely underused! My hope is that there will be sequel featuring them. I would even watch a spin-off.
I genuinely think there is something for everyone in this film, and anyone who is not swept away must have a heart of stone. Yes, it's an unabashed feel-good film, but the major chords are perfectly tempered by huge minor chords. The director, Garth Jennings, has created a masterpiece to rival Upside Down and The Lion King.
Sing certainly shows us a utopia. It is not realistic. But if the world is getting you down I highly recommend spending a couple of hours there.
Thanks for reading!