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Movie Night – ‘Sing’ has good story but lacks humor

By Bradley Griffith

It’s always nice to have a good movie you can take the entire family to during the holidays.  The movie theater around Christmas is always a good bonding experience.  “Sing” fits the bill and is an animated movie the entire family can enjoy, even if it’s not packed with laughter.

Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear with a dream.  He owns a music theater and dreams of returning to the heyday of the theater when the best acts performed in his theater and the shows were always sold out.  Sadly, Buster made a series of bad decisions that has the theater on the brink of financial (and physical) ruin.

Buster, along with his best friend Eddie (John C. Reilly), who is a sheep, and his elderly assistant iguana Miss Crawly (Garth Jennings), must find a way to save the theater.  Inspiration strikes Buster in the form of a singing competition to be held at his theater with a grand prize of $1,000, all the money he can scrape together.  The only problem is that Miss Crawly accidentally put an award of $100,000 on the flyers for the contest.

Based mainly on the $100,000 prize, thousands of animals line up to audition for the show.  From rapping alligators to a group of young red pandas who sing in Chinese, many different animals with different singing styles audition.  Buster and Miss Crawly must choose the finalists who will perform in the theater to what Buster hopes will be a packed house.

Buster chooses gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane), pigs Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) and Gunter (Nick Kroll), and porcupine Ash (Scarlety Johansson).  An extremely shy elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly) is too bashful to sing, but Buster hires her as a stage hand.

As all the finalists begin rehearsing for the big show different problems crop up in each of their lives that may prevent them from continuing in the contest.  At the same time, Buster has his own problems fending off creditors and keeping the theater open until the big show can bring in more money than he has ever dreamed.  Or not.

“Sing” has a very good story to back up the first-rate animation.  Each of the main characters is battling a different issue in their life.  Even though the odds are against them, they refuse to give up on their dream.  It’s a movie about family, chasing your dreams, and believing in yourself.  It’s a lesson that even adults need from time to time.

The glaring, and only, fault of the movie is that it simply isn’t very funny.  Sure, there were a few laughs from the audience, but this type of movie needs copious amounts of humor to propel the story forward and keep kids engaged in the story.  “Sing” is as serious as an animated movie can be with singing and dancing animals.  In a few parts, it’s even sad.

Other than the hijinks of the elderly, but quite spunky, Miss Crawly, the funniest scene of the movie was the auditions.  Much like “American Idol,” the auditions of animals that can in no shape, form, or fashion carry a tune generated the most laughs.  Even though the commercials for the movie focused on the auditions and the different animals performing their unusual acts, the audition scene in the movie lasted no more than five minutes and provided no laughs that weren’t in the commercials.

I don’t mean to imply that “Sing” is a bad movie.  It just wasn’t what was expected based on the promise of the commercials.  It’s a good movie with good singing, excellent voice work by the actors, and a good story.  It’s just not that funny.

Grade: B+

Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.