Remember when talent shows were the biggest thing on earth? Because for a few years, they were. While we always mocked Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor for the way they were very obvious in how they manipulated us to get the desired reaction, we watched in our droves. Seriously, you the TV ratings were ridiculous for these shows and even though they have declined over the last few years, they still have a respectable audience. So maybe it is a bit too late for a film that is basically one of them with a clear narrative, but Sing is going to try it.
Buster Moon’s (Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar) theatre is failing and he needs to put on a show that will save his dream. He decides to put on a talent show and challenges the regular citizens of the town to stand up and sing their hearts out. However there is an error in the creation of the poster and it says the prize money is $100,000 rather than the $1,000 it actually is.
So the film relies on one of the oldest clichés in the book. Everything is going bad but if we put on one great show, everything will be magically saved. I hate to bring up this cliché in response, but this is the actual plot of Breakin’2: Electric Boogaloo as well as this animated film released in 2017. Now many animated films innovate on this sort of thing nowadays as they are all desperate to emulate Disney, who have made subverting clichés into their own cliché. But remarkably, the film doesn’t try this. Instead it tells us this story we’ve seen a million times before with the same beats we’ve seen a million times before. What that means is a tired plot which is rather dull to sit through because we know exactly what is coming.
The way the movie tries to disguise the fact it’s main plot is one of the most overused stories in history is by creating a tonne clichéd sub-plots for the people entering the talent show! So you’ve got Johnny (Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service) who doesn’t want to follow his dad into his life of crime and instead loves singing, the mother Rosita (Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line) who wants to break out of her usual routine and Meena (Tori Kelly, First Feature Film) who has an incredible voice but suffers from terrible stage fright. You’ve seen these stories before, you’ve seen the beats before and you’ve seen the endings before. Just because they cram them all together doesn’t mean it suddenly becomes very original.
It’s really down to the impressive voice cast that this film doesn’t get incredibly tired. As you can see, they’ve got some great names with Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Taron Egerton all on board. And that’s not all. They also have Scarlet Johansson (Lost in Translation) as a rocker who is dumped by her boyfriend before the contest, John C. Reilly (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby) as Buster’s long suffering friend Eddie and Seth MacFarlane (Ted) as Mike, the cocky but brilliant swing singer and is actually the most fun character in the movie. Everyone puts in a great performance and brings these characters alive even if we are just seeing the same thing once again.
And you know something? I am a sucker for a film finishing off with a big musical ending and that’s what this movie does. Essentially the movie ends with the much anticipated concert, though some leaps in plot logic are needed to get there, and it is great fun. Everyone gets a really fun song to sing, they are all licenced so you have the likes of Shake It Off and Rocketman rather than what could be a hit and miss original soundtrack, and it means the movie does end on a rather positive note because there is a good time to be had.
However I can’t really give the film a recommendation because there just simply enough here. There’s some fun bits, but nothing is particularly good. Even with the lively voice cast, there’s nothing here that excites or will make your kid quiet like you hoped when you put the DVD on. This is due in large part to the overuse of clichés, but also the script is rather weak with it’s humour. The film hits when it is parodying those big name talent shows, one brilliant moment is when a hippo is on camera saying how amazing he is before being absolutely rubbish on stage, but other than that there are little laughs to be had.
Sing isn’t terrible. As a film that you want on as a bit of background noise or just to while away an hour or two, it isn’t the worst thing in the world. It’s animation is decent, the voice cast are having a lot of fun and the big concert at the end has some great songs, meaning there is some enjoyment to be had. But there’s almost a fear of being original as this film has so many clichés, with most of them being the tired ones that have been in animated films from the start of time. It’s not bad, just not good either.