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Review: Animated pop music tale ‘Sing’ is pitchy, dawg

Animals tackle pop standards in a movie that never inspires

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

For a movie that sets out to celebrate the transformative power of pop music, “Sing” hits a bum note.

This mashup of “Zootopia” and “American Idol” takes place in a city entirely populated by talking animals where a koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) sets out to promote a contest for local singers at his theater. Among the hopefuls are a shy elephant (pop singer Tori Kelly), a punk rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson), a crooning mouse (Seth McFarlane), an overworked mother to 25 piglets (Reese Witherspoon) and a gorilla looking to escape a life of crime (Taron Egerton).

“Sing” falls into the trap of the latter seasons of “Idol,” where hard luck stories and sentimentality overshadow the music. Every character in “Sing” is trying to overcome some sort of personal obstacle, as if that makes their version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” any better.

Another gripe: There is no acknowledgment in the film of the existence of human beings, let alone pop singers or entertainers, so it’s never clear where songs like Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” or Katy Perry’s “Firework” come from in this world. Are the animals knowingly covering songs by humans, or are we simply supposed to take the mouse’s version of “My Way” on its own merits?

Either way, “Sing” never sings. The songs are rudimentary, the animation doesn’t sparkle, the story doesn’t inspire. Directors Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet lean heavily on pop music to move things along, but there’s nothing special underneath the surface. Like a song you’ve heard too many times, “Sing” is just background music.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

@grahamorama

 

‘Sing’

GRADE: C

Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril

Running time: 110 minutes