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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Sing

March 19th, 2017

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Sing

Sing was the last big animated film released in 2016 and it was a good year for animated films. Both Zootopia and Finding Dory earned stunnign reviews and more than $1 billion worldwide. Sing couldn’t compete with those box office numbers, but is it at least close in terms of quality?

The Movie

This is mostly a character driven film and the plot is set up almost entirely in the first 12 minutes. We are rapidly introduced to a number of characters and their lives before they are thrown into the singing competition. This starts with Buster Moon, a Koala Bear who runs the theater. He’s down on his luck at the moment, but he thinks this singing competition will be just what his theater needs to get back to its glory days. Eddie, his best friend, thinks it’s a bad idea. However, the show does generate a lot of publicity after his secretary, Crawly, accidentally prints out flyers with $100,000 as the prize money instead of the $1,000 he has left. He doesn’t realize the mistake until it is too late to fix it.

We are quickly introduced to the lucky contestants. Johnny is an Ape who is in his father’s gang. His father wants him to be an important member of his gang, but Johnny wants to sing. Rosita is a Pig who is married to an inattentive husband and is raising 25 kids. Ash is a teenage porcupine whose boyfriend doesn’t respect her talent. Meena is an elephant with huge talent, but she suffers from stage-fright. It’s so bad that she can’t even sing during her audition. She comes back the next day to try again, but is hired by Buster as a stagehand. Finally there’s Mike, a saxophone-playing mouse who has an outsized ego, an ego that gets him into trouble. He’s so sure he’s going to win, he starts borrowing money using the prize as collateral before the competition even really begins.

There’s only one character that is on the poster that I haven’t talked about, Gunter. He becomes Rosita’s singing and dancing partner. There are other characters selected to be in the show, but you can tell they won’t get any backstory or character arcs, so I can safely skip them in the plot summary.

Before I get into the movie, I do want to talk about the trailers that appear before it. Because my Blu-ray player is hooked up to the internet, it can grab trailers and plays them before the movie. I assume that’s what happened, because one time the trailers were led by Fifty Shades Darker. The other two times, the first trailer that played was for Despicable Me 3. That makes more sense.

I have seen every single film in the top ten on the 2016 domestic chart. Sing is right in the middle of the pack. That’s actually a compliment, as I really liked most of the top ten films from 2016. Most of them. There were a couple of concerns I had with the movie going in that proved to be misplaced. Firstly, I don’t listen to the radio. I haven’t for more than a decade, so I was concerned I wouldn’t know any of the songs. There were more than a few I had no idea what they were and I had to look them up. Apparently I’ve never heard “Anaconda” before. I guess I’ve seen Nicki Minaj act more than I’ve heard her sing. Despite this, there were still enough songs that I enjoyed that I didn’t feel left out. Secondly, I was worried about the cast. I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews, but the skills needed to do voice work are different to the skills needed to do live-action acting. I was worried that Sing’s cast was put together because of their names more than their past voice-over work. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

That’s not to say the movie is perfect. There are two key problems that stand out. Firstly, Crawly is a chameleon with a glass eye. It pops out twice in ways that cause the plot to move forward. I think it was supposed to be funny, but I thought it was cringe-worthy. It was a joke that punched down and I’m not a fan of that type of humor. Secondly, this movie was really predictable. Here’s a bit of a spoiler, when Buster first choose the contestants for the competition, he picks more people than were introduced in the opening ten minutes of the movie. You know right away that these people are not going to be important to the plot. There were also some of the more specific jokes that were telegraphed too far away, including the Japanese Red Pandas and the resolution to their running joke. Predictability in a kids movie isn’t the worse thing a film can do, as long as it has other strengths.

And Sing has other strengths. The main cast are all engaging and the plot has a lot of heart. Not all of the characters are sympathetic enough to cheer for, but there is also no cartoonish villain either. It also ends on a really strong note. So what if it is predictable? It’s got an infectious charm that will draw you in. As far as kids movies go, this one is really good. I think it will entertain the kids, and most parents who sit and watch the movie with them. It’s not award-worthy like some of the other animated films that I reviewed from 2016, but you can’t knock its entertainment value.

The Extras

Extras begin with a trio of short films: Gunter Babysits, Love at first Sight, and Eddie's Life Coach. There is also a short making of featurette that goes with the three shorts. Up next are a couple of making of featurettes, The Making of Sing and Finding the Rhythm. There are character profiles for the main cast than run a total of 12 minutes, so don’t expect a lot of depth for each character. There are five extras dealing with the music, starting with a music video for Tori Kelly singing “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing”, as well as a making of featurette for said video. There are two music videos for “Faith”, by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande. The first is the regular music video and the second is a lyrics video. “Set It All Free” by Scarlett Johansson has a lyrics video. We return to “Faith” for a dancing lesson. There are five faux commercials for various companies in the Sing world. Finally, there’s a minute-long montage with Gunter.

On a side note, the subtitles say, “Singing pop song” and nothing that would help people like me identify the songs actually being sung. I think that was an oversight.

The Verdict

Sing was better than I expected it would be, as I’m not a fan of singing competition shows and don’t listen to the radio. It isn’t the most original movie you can see; even compared to other kids movies, it is rather predictable. However, the show has a lot of heart and an infectious enthusiasm. The extras on the DVD / Blu-ray are more than enough to be worth picking up. It is even a contender for Pick of the Week.

Filed under: Video Review, Sing, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, Matthew McConaughey, Nick Offerman, John C. Reilly, Peter Serafinowicz, Reese Witherspoon, Nick Kroll, Nicki Minaj, Stevie Wonder, Garth Jennings, Taron Egerton, Ariana Grande, Beck Bennett, Tori Kelly