Since the release of Despicable Me in 2010, Illumination Entertainment, the animation studio that has become best known for its “Minion movies” has had varying levels of success with its other original ideas. In fact, other than last year’s excellent The Secret Life of Pets, the production company have struggled to turn any of their other films (Hop, The Lorax) into successes viable for a franchise. Sing, the studio’s latest animated feature which, much like ‘Life of Pets’, has been trailed for what seems like months on end, aims but ultimately fails to capture the same kind of viral response as that which has come before it.
Good but not great, it’s a contradiction of a film in which there’s too much going and never quite enough happening at the same time. The basic concept of a theatre owner (Buster Moon the Koala) deciding to hold a singing competition in an attempt to save his theatre, is stretched thin by a number of different animal characters with underdeveloped backstories.
There’s Johnny the gorilla, one member of a gang of cockney criminals, who wants to give up a life of crime for his singing; Rosita the pig, arguably the most relatable character in that she is an exhausted mother that has to juggle her familial duties as well as rehearsals; Mike the mouse (surely a wink at a certain other cartoon mouse) that is on the run after swindling a trio of Russian bears; Ash the teenage porcupine, recently dumped by her boyfriend; and finally there’s Meena the elephant, the most talented of the bunch who has to fight her crippling shyness for the show.
With so many different plot threads to tie up within 100-minutes, it’s impossible to spend as much time with the individual characters as you would like. As a result, there’s little to no investment to be made in what are supposed to be emotionally charged stories about family and bravery. And in turn, this means that Sing sorely lacks the biggest thing that the very best animated films have in abundance: heart.
Of course, these stories may only be heightened for younger viewers and perhaps part of the problem is that this feels like it plays to a very younger audience than usual. For adults (and I’m guessing most older children) however, this will be a bit of a drudge to get through. Granted, there are a few decent gags – most of which you’ve probably seen in the trailer – and its jukebox soundtrack will have enough tunes to please both the young and old. But for its few high notes, Sing is more of a bum note that fails to even come close to comparing with some of the finer animations we’ve seen in recent years.
Image credit to http://www.impawards.com