“Sing” isn’t belt­ing it out, but it’s charm­ing enough

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Michael O’Sul­li­van

The an­i­mated comedy “Sing” has one big thing go­ing for it: movie stars play­ing singing an­i­mals. There’s a sec­ond ap­peal if you fol­low such tele­vi­sion shows as “The Voice” and “Amer­i­can Idol.” The movie is set dur­ing an am­a­teur vo­cal com­pe­ti­tion. OK, so “La La Land” it ain’t. Still, the sight and sound of Bri­tish heart­throb Taron Eger­ton as a croon­ing go­rilla named Johnny — and Reese Wither­spoon as the pig Rosita, Seth MacFar­lane as the mouse Mike and Scarlett Jo­hans­son as the punk por­cu­pine Ash, all singing their lit­tle hearts out — is just charm­ing enough to keep any­one look­ing for a fam­i­lyfriendly movie op­tion this hol­i­day sea­son happy. The naughty jokes never stray very far from the realm of flat­u­lence, and the sounds com­ing out the other ends are, like those gen­er­ated by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in “La La Land,” sur­pris­ingly easy on the ears. For­mer “Idol” con­tes­tants Tori Kelly and Jen­nifer Hud­son also pro­vide voices for, re­spec­tively, an ele­phant with stage fright and a young sheep diva (voiced, in her later years, by Jen­nifer Saun­ders, who proved she had some pipes as the fairy god­mother in “Shrek 2”).

The story, in­sub­stan­tial as it is, re­volves around the ef­forts of a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) to re­vive the for­tunes of his dy­ing the­ater. Hence: the singing con­test. Prob­lems arise when the prize of­fered is mis­tak­enly ad­ver­tised as $100,000, which Buster doesn’t have.

Other mild con­flicts emerge in the form of Rosita’s ef­forts to jug­gle her dreams of celebrity with the de­mands of a large fam­ily and Johnny’s strug­gle to leave be­hind a life of crime. The ten­sion is never un­bear­able, even when gen­er­ated by a trio of mob­ster bears in pur­suit of Mike, for rea­sons I have, quite frankly, for­gotten.

The an­i­ma­tion, cour­tesy of Il­lu­mi­na­tion Entertainment (“De­spi­ca­ble Me”), is ser­vice­ably cute, adding the eye-pop­ping delights of bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cent squid to the strange al­lure of a menagerie of an­i­mals ren­der­ing ev­ery­thing from such con­tem­po­rary chart­top­pers as Tay­lor Swift’s “Shake It Off ” to Shock­ing Blue’s 1969 hit “Venus.” There’s even a snippet of ob­scure scat singer Shooby Tay­lor’s early-1980s odd­ity “StoutHearted Men.” (Ku­dos to the film’s mu­sic su­per­vi­sor. Bonus points for Mom and Dad if they rec­og­nize it.)

“Sing” ends, pre­dictably and with­out strain­ing, on a high note, with ev­ery­body’s prob­lems re­solved. If only real life could so eas­ily be re­aligned, by a singing pig.

Pro­vided by Il­lu­mi­na­tion Entertainment/Universal Pic­tures

Ash, voiced by Scarlett Jo­hans­son, com­petes in a singing con­test in “Sing.”

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