Funny thing about dreams: Everyone has them, yet so few actually achieve them. At least not permanently.
Take Buster Moon, for instance. At the tender age of 6, the koala bear fell in love. The object of his ardour? The theatre. Buster found himself mesmerised by the operatic prowess of one Nana Noodleman, a singer whose voice was a thing of captivating, wondrous beauty. So much so, in fact, that lil’ Buster decided right then and there that he would one day own the theatre where he’d heard her sing.
One day years later—thanks to the hardworking support of his faithful father—Buster’s dream came true: He purchased the hallowed thespian establishment.
Alas, seemingly fulfilled dreams can be slippery things. And Buster’s mostly-ignored theatre is now smack up against those proverbial hard times. He doesn’t have the cash flow to pay grumbling stage hands after the theatre’s latest box office bomb. He can’t make mortgage payments, either. It looks as if Buster’s dream is on the verge of going to an early grave.
But necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. Or at least imitation. So Buster hatches a desperate brainstorm: stage a singing competition for everyone in his palm tree-dotted metropolis, a last-ditch attempt to generate interest in his failing venue.
In a flash, the dreams of animals across town are suddenly, unexpectedly energised. All of these yearning, singing souls (along with scores of other mostly mammalian hopefuls) converge on Buster’s dilapidated old theatre, American Idol-style, much to his surprised delight.
But a much bigger surprise awaits almost everyone when they discover that Buster’s prize package is actually a couple digits shy of what was promised on the brochure—a realization that threatens to cruelly crush all of their fragile dreams.
Though it’s not a Disney film, Sing nevertheless requisitions the Mouse House’s perennial theme of persevering in the pursuit of your heart’s desire. Buster tries to coach Meena through her crippling stage fright, telling the paralysed pachyderm, “Do what you love. Then you won’t be afraid anymore. Because you’re actually doing it.”
Early on, Buster brims with confidence despite his misfortunes. He tells his bestie, “You know what’s good about hitting rock bottom, Eddie? There’s only one way to go, and that’s up.”
Though Ash is just a teenager, it’s implied that she and Lance are perhaps living together. At the very least, he has a key to her apartment, and she comes home one day to find him flirting with another pretty porcupine named Becky.
For the show, Rosita partners with a flamboyant, German-accented pig named Gunter. He wears a skin-tight leotard that Rosita comments shows a lot of “skin,” and he does something like a striptease to reveal his outfit.
Buster repeatedly tries to dodge his financial obligations, including paying his stagehands and repaying a bank loan.
Marcus and his gang pull off two heists. The second of those lands that group of guerrilla gorillas in jail—mostly because his son, Johnny, abandons his role as the getaway driver in order to go sing. Marcus cruelly tells Johnny (via a jail phone), “How did I end up with a son like you? You’re nothing like me. You never were, and you never will be.” Johnny then tries (unsuccessfully) to steal the supposed $100K prize money in order to post bail for his dad.
Sometimes you walk out of movies thinking, “Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting at all.”
Sing is not one of those movies.
Sing is exactly what you would expect if you’ve seen the trailer: a light-hearted and inspiring American Idol-style singing competition between animated, anthropomorphised animals. Just like that genre-defining show, each contestant here harbours dreams of singing, and each has the obligatory dramatic or hard-luck backstory. In the end, we’re invited to root for them all.
Like most animated flicks these days, there’s a whisker of bathroom humour and a hair of suggestive material. Animal flatulence jokes will no doubt get the little ones giggling, even as Mom and Dad roll their eyes a bit.
It’s all in the service of that Disney-style ideal of following your heart. Keep dreaming, the movie says. Keep hoping. Never give up, and never give up on your friends. Parents, of course, know that there may be some instances where such starry-eyed counsel is unrealistic. But then again, this is a movie about singing animals, so we probably don’t need to overthink that one.
By Focus on the Family Singapore. This review was adapted from Plugged In: the entertainment guide your family needs to make family appropriate decisions through movie reviews, book reviews, TV reviews, and more.