Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sing Review: Illumination's Latest Film is a Typical yet Stellar Musical Comedy!

Illumination Entertainment has certainly made a name for itself over the years. With hits such as the Despicable Me series, the animation studio has become a major player in its genre, and continues to do so for every movie season. Illumination has had one film in 2016 with The Secret Life of Pets, but it would not the studio's only appearance this year as in theaters this holiday season is Sing. Written and directed by Garth Jennings Sing centers on the concept of anthropomorphic characters competing in a singing contest. Although seeing animals dealing with human situations is nothing new (even for this year) there was something about this animated flick that I found compelling. So does Sing steal the spotlight or does this animated musical miss a few notes?

Sing tells the story of Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey): a down on his luck Koala who seeks to keep his dream alive by saving his theater from being repossessed. In one final scheme Buster decides to hold a singing competition for $1,000, which turns into a $100,000 contest after a mishap. Because of this prospect many of the city inhabitants head to the theater to perform: which includes the domestic pig Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), the young gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), the shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), the enthusiastic pig Gunter (Nick Kroll), the aspiring rock star porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johnasson) and the smooth talking mouse Mike (Seth McFarlane). After making through the auditions each of the contestants put together their acts while trying to balance the complications of their lives. As the singers have their issues to deal with, Buster does everything in his power to raise the $100,000 and make sure the show is a hit.

The plot to Sing was an expected one. The story to this animated feature manage to hit the typical notes and morals that many film in the genre have covered before. Yet it was how the movie handled its story that made all the difference. The plot behind Sing had a great many strengths to it such as having realistic conflicts. While most of the drama had a cinematic flair to it, most of the characters dilemma's such as Rosita trying balance her daily life, Meena's shyness and even Johnny's breaking away from his criminal father (Peter Serafinowicz) felt natural not to mention believable. However there were complications in the film's narrative. With the story dealing so many characters with their own tales to tell, the plot could be a bit sporadic in its delivery. Yet for the most part the story handled itself quite well as it was able showcase each character's plot and connect them all together. All of this led to be a finale that, while expected, was joy to see come together with the film sense of presentation.

  To say this film featured an extensive cast would be an understatement. Along with the main characters were also a hand full of supporting characters such as the elderly lizard Ms.Krawley (Gareth Jennings), Buster's partner Eddie Noodleman (John C.Reilly) Meena's mother (Leslie Jones) and grandfather (Jay Pharoah), Rosita's husband Norman (Nick Offerman), Eddie's grandmother and claimed singer Miss Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders) and this just names a few. Even with all these characters to deal with, the cast found a way to shine through. One of the things that fascinated me about the main cast was how each were able to stand on their own merits and worked well together. Each character were interesting in their own right and their interactions together made the group that more captivating to see. Along with the solid leads were the supporting characters who certain lived to their concept. These characters helped the leads along while finding time to stand out. I particularly liked Miss Krawley as her antics could steal the show in all of her scenes. Helping this factor were the performances from the actors. Not only was the cast spot on with their roles but each performance was just as colorful as the characters they were portraying.

Sing featured the bright and colorful animation that goes along with a Illumination Entertainment film. In the area of animation Sing had little to no differences from other Illumination features, but that was not a bad thing as the look to the film certainly fit its tone. The movie also had a good sense of humor behind it. While some jokes were better than others, there was no denying that the comedy to Sing ranged from being entertaining or just clever. Then there was the movie's musical element. Sing was not your typical musical as the songs (while present) were not handled in a normal fashion. There were times in the movie where I found it hard to consider this film a musical. However this ended not being the case as the movie featured its big numbers in its finale. When it came down it the musical numbers they were effective as they managed to bring a cinematic take on many hit songs; plus the use of pop songs managed to work to the movie's favor by working along the atmosphere and concept that made up Sing.

Sing may look like a typical animated feature, and in some regards it is. Yet this movie showed that sometimes it is not the what but the how-and in that case Sing had a stellar execution. The film used standard plot points and character direction  to best of their ability while featuring a strong presentation, good comedy, solid animation and a delightful musical atmosphere. Add all these factors together and you have a film that is great for the holiday season as well as a great addition to Illumination Entertainment.

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