THE MOVIE GUY: ‘Sing’ can’t quite hit the right notes

Published 11:28 pm Thursday, December 22, 2016

The new animated family film, “Sing,” is a lot of fun and filled with plenty of music. It should be a big hit with families looking for something to do over the holidays. That being said, the movie isn’t quite the sparkling Christmas present many were hoping to find at the multiplex this weekend.

The story certainly has potential. “Sing” is set in a world populated by talking animals. Matthew McConaughey plays Buster Moon, a genial koala bear who’s struggling to save his old theater. He decides to host a singing competition, but things get out of hand when his bumbling assistant accidentally adds some extra zeros to the amount of the contest’s grand prize.

Buster finds himself besieged by herds of animals, all hoping to find fame and fortune on his stage. Think of it as a zany version of “American Idol” that just happens to be set in the world of “Zootopia” and you’ll get the basic picture.

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The idea is sound, but the execution is suspect. We meet a lot of fun animal characters, but they rarely connect on any emotional level. I enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s punk rock porcupine and Seth MacFarlane’s well-dressed mouse crooner, but none of the other characters really stick in my mind.

Part of the issue is that the animation isn’t quite as cute as we’ve come to expect from most contemporary family films. The character’s eyes aren’t as big and expressive as you normally find in animated movies, and the filmmakers struggle to adapt animal fur into creative character designs. It’s all just a bit bland.

There’s a similar issue with the movie’s song selections. I appreciate that the filmmakers didn’t simply settle for current pop hits, but are there any toddlers out there who can sing along with a Leonard Cohen song? Kudos for the eclectic musical range, but it’s a bit too disjointed to give the film any thematic consistency.

All of which makes “Sing” into something of a strange beast. There are cute animals doing all sorts of crazy, anthropomorphized things, but they don’t really pop visually off the screen. The music seldom makes you want to get up and sing along and the characters don’t have the emotional heft to make you want to truly get involved in their oddball lives.

Which is not to say that the film is bad. “Sing” has plenty of fun moments that will keep families entertained for a few hours. Call it the curse of Pixar and Walt Disney, but this serviceable bit of family entertainment just doesn’t live up to the lofty standards set by recent decades of animated movies.

“Sing” tries to hum an interesting tune, but it doesn’t quite hit the notes.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM and KBTV. Sean welcomes your comments by email at