With only four more days to go until 2017, I have quite a few movies I have yet to watch. After “La La Land” blew my mind, I’m going to have to re-watch the movie that I thought was a shoe-in for my number 1 slot for top movie of 2016. On top of that, I still would really like to see Nocturnal Animals and Fences… and if I can get it in, possibly Passengers…
But I also like to spend time with my wife, so I told her that if she wanted to see a movie with me, I’d let her pick which one we watched.
… So we went and saw Sing tonight…
Now Sing was nowhere close to being on my radar. Aside from Kubo and The Two Strings, I thought every animation I saw this year was either bland or painful. Moana was unexceptional (yes, I said unexceptional), Finding Dory was a bit of a waste, Zootopia was irritating, Kung Fu Panda 3 was obnoxious and forgettable, and The Secret Life of Pets would have been a nice nap if I didn’t take reviewing movies so seriously.
So I wasn’t looking forward to seriously reviewing another animation, and then people reading it and moaning about how I’m taking this kid’s movie too seriously, all the while praising it without any sense of irony.
The biggest detractor from the film is that it expects you to sympathize with protagonist Buster Moon, the koala pictured above, and it was absolutely impossible to do so. At the very beginning of the movie, they establish four things about his character: he is an utter failure at putting on a successful play, he is unable to pay back anybody for his failed projects and avoids talking to any of them, he is completely insensitive to people around him when it means getting to where he needs to be, and he is completely unaware of what a massive jerk-wad he is.
From the very beginning, Moon is an abysmal character, and the movie only emphasizes these negative traits as the story goes on. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the movie had some sort of awareness of how much of an idiot he was being. But the movie is practically begging for you to feel what he feels about his dying theatre.
What’s worse is, because it’s a kid’s movie, Moon never really truly gets struck in the head about how much of an asshole he was the entire movie, and whatever consequences he faces for how much of a failure he is at life gets fixed by the end.
Additionally, when Moon sets up this singing competition, he seems to do everything in his power to sabotage some of the performances.
He pairs competent-enough Rosita the pig with another pig who can’t sing but has a… “good stage presence”.
He forces Johnny the gorilla to sing and play the piano despite the fact Johnny doesn’t know how to play the piano.
And he makes goth-rocker Ash the Porcupine sing “Call Me Maybe” in a pretty blue dress.
And I’m supposed to feel sorry for Moon’s lack of success? The man deserves every terrible thing that happens to him.
The rest of the characters all have good singing voices (and some are even great), have decent personalities, and are generally likable people (except that rat played by Seth McFarlane). Unfortunately, the movie never truly emphasizes any of their storylines, thus it is extremely hard to truly fall in love with any of these characters.
The movie sometimes succeeds in setting some promising foundations for some of their stories, but it is so lacking in self-awareness that it misses the opportunity to really hit some true feelings.
For example, Rosita the pig really wants to sing for this talent show so that she can feel important and accomplished (because her husband and her 25 children completely take her for granted). But nobody will help her take care of the kids, so she spends all night making a contraption that will take care of her kids and her husband so that she can spend the necessary time rehearsing. And it works; the machine successfully wakes, feeds, clothes, prepares, and even beds the children, and none of her family even notices that Rosita is gone.
And I just sat there and thought, “Wow, that’s actually sort of devastating that her family doesn’t notice all that she does for her…”
But the movie never even acknowledges how sad this is. It’s as if they just set it up as some sort of funny gag.
Another example is when Johnny’s gorilla father ends up going to prison for stealing money, and he disowns his son while in jail because Johnny chose his singing career over helping his father rob people.
But then his father hears Johnny singing on the TV, and his face looks like he finally realized what an ass he was being, and I thought “Oh wow, now his father has a change of heart, and he has time in prison to truly mull over his life decisions and has time to conjure up an apology to Johnny.”
Nope. His father then commences to break out of prison effortlessly and runs from the police to go see Johnny’s performance… as if this was just some stupid kid’s cartoon (oh wait…).
As for the rest of the elements of this movie, it’s just an animated version of American Idol / karaoke night at some restaurant. Basically, we get a massive amount of pop culture songs sung by other people, and nothing else.
There is never really a pop song that is sung in a way that is groundbreaking, special, or transformational.
So the question is, does an animated version of American Idol sound entertaining to you?
It was not entertaining to me, that’s for sure.
There’s a few chuckles to be had in this movie, the singing voices are all good, and some of the characters are actually decent. But the vast majority of the film lacks any sort of self-awareness and/or is just pop songs sung in the same way that they were initially sung. There is very little about the movie that is exceptional, and of course, there is very little that resembles any real consequence. Unless you have children or are a big fan of American Idol, there is really no point in seeing Sing.