I am going to start this review of Sing with a brutal and honest confession. I wasn’t in any way interested to watch this movie because it looked like a mashup of Zootopia and La La Land. On top of that, I am not a huge fan of musicals but after watching La La Land I have brought the genre up by a slot on my list. So as I gave La La Land and Moana a chance, I thought that in all fairness I should give Sing a chance too. So, here are my thoughts on the movie.
PLOT and CHARACTER SUB-PLOTS
So, like Zootopia, the setup for this universe is a world with animals of every species(except humans) living human like lives. Here, a young Buster Moon(Matthew McConaughey) is watching a young Nana(Jennifer Hudson) perform and that begins his dream of buying the theatre and showcasing every kind of talent in it. Even though that dream does get fulfilled, Buster isn’t able to follow up on it and becomes broke. Seeing his dream fall apart he makes a last ditch attempt by organising a talent show contest to bring back the theatre to life.
Even though this is a done-to-death plot, Garth Jennings makes it interesting by introducing various sub-plots which kicks the movie into motion. None of those sub-plots(except one) have a very significant effect on the main plot but it does help in driving the narrative forward and also helps in the building the characters through the course of the movie. The stakes feel real due to their human-like lives and that’s why the consequences feel more relatable.
Each character has been picked out with a very specific kind of struggle and in a way they learn to shun their inhibitions after learning about Buster’s struggle. Rosita’s(Reese Witherspoon) story resembled a concise version of a Bollywood movie, English Vinglish(do check that movie out) and her struggle is identity. She goes about her life almost unnoticed and her kids and husband don’t even miss her when she’s gone. That’s why her every move and dialogue and even her knee-jerk reactions are towards returning to that mundane life or even worse, going unnoticed.
Ash’s(Scarlett Johannson) struggle is freedom and being identified as an individual and not some guy/porcupine’s girlfriend. She probably had the most simplistic plot and was even generalised by Seth Macfarlane’s character, Mike as “the moody teenager”. It’s nothing new but it doesn’t also stick out like a sore thumb, like all moody teenagers do.
Johnny’s(Taron Egerton) struggle was breaking out of the legacy of his family. He doesn’t want to live his life as a goon and he recognises the potential he has to be something more. He has one of the touchiest moments at the end of the movie, even though the build-up to that moment felt a bit cliched.
Meena’s(Tori Kelly) sub-plot was probably one of the most cliched plots related to stage performance and that is stage-fear. The fear of not facing the crowd even though she is a bundle of talent. Again, just like Ash’s character, nothing new, but as it is not irritating or vexing, I didn’t mind it that much.
Mike’s(Seth Macfarlane) had the struggle of letting go of his ego and accepting the fact that it’s his ego that is stopping him from reaching his potential. Due to his size he has to hold his own in every scenario and his character is all the more funny because of Macfarlane’s vocals. Mike was like a mouse-version of Brian Griffin(also voiced by Seth Macfarlane)
One character I really felt for was the character of Miss Crawley. There was a certain frailty and a sense of loyalty in her character. Even though it is often used for comedy but her undying enthusiasm to serve her boss, no matter what, made me a bit emotional. She had a Mrs. Hudson vibe to her character. Then again, I cracked up after knowing that the director, Garth Jennings, himself has voiced her.
The major disappointing factor regarding the songs is the lack of original songs in a movie about singing. That really kept bugging me because it just kept reminding me of another movie with too many pop-songs playing in the background. Yes, I am talking about Suicide Squad. I am really not sure how many original songs were there in this movie but none of the songs left a lasting impression in my head. Still, the movie manages to utilise the pop-songs in order to showcase the inner struggles of the characters and as the characters are built with care, you cannot help but tap your feet when they perform. That happens because of the implication of a simple logic. We have heard these songs so many times that we know the meaning of each of those songs and they are relatable in some way or the other. So, when you listen to these songs being sung by these characters, you actually begin to project your idea of the song on them. It’s a pretty elusive way of using the songs but as it is effective enough, I think the movie gets a pass from me.
I am really not a fan of 3D animation anymore because it just feels way too plastic in comparison to stop-motion. It’s a personal thing so I won’t deduct any points for that but the intelligent way of using the animation to propagate humour really surprised me. There were whip-pans and transitions that were a sight to behold for anyone who is on the lookout for such intricacies. So, plus points to Garth Jennings and the animation department for using the field of animation to it’s fullest. The colour did feel a little drab and that can be a letdown. None of the colours pop-out because, by the looks of it, the animators tried to make the animals look way too human. They are animals and it’s an animated movie. I think each of the characters should have looked synonymous to their habitats or way of living in the real life. I mean, not literally. Or else, Rosita would be living in a house full of mud and Mike would be living in a gutter. I mean, they could have experimented a lot with character designs to make them more memorable.
WHERE DOES IT STAND IN 2016’s LIST OF ANIMATED MOVIES?
With this, I think I have finally completed my list of animated movies that came out in 2016. It is certainly not as good as Kubo, Zootopia and the Red Turtle but it is certainly better than Moana, Secret life of Pets and the rest of the generic animated movies that came out in 2016. So, let me point out the most important point that the movie missed out on and the point which could have put the movie among the bests. It is the voice acting. Now, I do know the amazing actors and actresses that are in the cast but in the movie where they are portraying animals, they do not become the animals. They do emote and portray a human version of the character but the qualities of that animal isn’t infused into that character. Other than that, the reason why I liked this movie was because of it’s ability to juggle between so many characters. The movie really succeeds in evoking the general and the character-wise emotions.
I’ll definitely urge you to check it out. It’s a must watch for kids and adults alike. The kids are certainly going to enjoy it because of the jokes and the visuals and the adults can also get a kick out of the more adult-centred features of the characters. As the movie has a feel-good ending to it, you can return home with a more optimistic view of life that the fun thing about hitting rock-bottom is after that the only way is..up.
Picture courtesy: Illumination Entertainment
P.S. – This is not much of a spoiler, so you can read this if you want. If you hang around till the end-credits you can catch the names of two of my favourite directors. Even if it’s highly unlikely they will ever work together but while working on this movie, I wish they have talked about a collaboration because if they do work together it will be the action-comedy movie of the century(or might be a complete disaster, who knows?). In case you’re wondering who they are, it is Wes Anderson and Edgar Wright.