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MOVIE REVIEW

Sing also known as “Canta ¿Quién canta sus males espanta,” “Cantartugal,” “Chantez,” “Dainuok,” “Dziedi,” “Pjevajte s nama,” “Sing: Quem Canta Seus Males Espanta,” “Sing: ¡Ven y canta!,” “¡Canta!,” “Énekelj!”

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for some rude humor and mild peril.

Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids Family
Genre:
Animation Music Comedy Family 3D
Length:
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
2016
USA Release:
December 21, 2016 (wide—4,022 theaters)
DVD: March 21, 2017
Copyright, Universal Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

facing your fears, lest they stop you from doing things that need to be done or things you love

stage fright

animals in the Bible

music in the Bible

Kid Explorers™
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Featuring: Matthew McConaugheyBuster Moon (voice), an optimistic koala
Reese WitherspoonRosita (voice), a domestic pig who gave up her teenage music dreams to become a devoted wife of Norman and mother to 25 piglets
Seth MacFarlane … Mike (voice), a small white crooning mouse with a big Frank Sinatra-esque voice and an arrogant attitude
Scarlett JohanssonAsh (voice), a crested porcupine punk rocker who takes part in an alternative-rock music group with her boyfriend Lance until she rejects him for cheating on her with another crested porcupine
John C. ReillyEddie Noodleman (voice), a Suffolk sheep and Buster's partner
Tori Kelly … Meena (voice), a teenage Indian elephant with an exquisite voice and severe stage fright
Taron Egerton … Johnny (voice), a Cockney-accented mountain gorilla who wants to sing, but his father wants him to follow his criminal footsteps
Nick Kroll … Gunter (voice), a domestic pig and Rosita's German-accented, optimistic and bubbly dance partner
Nick Offerman … Norman (voice), a domestic pig and Rosita's workaholic husband
Leslie Jones … Meena's Mother (voice)
Peter Serafinowicz … Big Daddy (voice), Johnny's gang leader father who wants him to follow in his business of crime
Rhea Perlman … Judith (voice), a brown Llama from the bank
Jennifer HudsonYoung Nana Noodleman (voice)
See all »
Director: Garth Jennings—“The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” (2005), “Son of Rambow” (2007)
Producer: Hammer and Tongs
Illumination Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: Universal Pictures

Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is down on his luck. The bank is on the verge of repossessing his father’s theater, his staff is claiming to be underpaid, and the theater itself is kinda old. Trying to figure out a way to get things back on track, he decides to do a singing competition to try and bring the crowds back out.

The original prize is labeled $1,000, but thanks to an error by his lizard secretary Mrs. Crawley (voiced by the director, Garth Jennings), it gets out that the prize is $100,000. People line up, including a few hopefuls with stories of their own. Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a mother pig of 25 piglets hoping to sing again after stopping her singing career in favor of raising a family. Mike (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) is a self-centered gambler who has a Sinatra-style crooner voice.

Then there’s Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a Porcupine rock singer trying to make it, along with her boyfriend. Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton) is a gorilla who’s father is a master criminal, and wants to try and step out of his shadow. Finally, Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly) is a shy elephant who wants to sing, but suffers from a major case of stage fright.

Positive Messages

One of the main messages of “Sing” is not to let fear stop us from reaching our potential. Meena learns to overcome her fears, and toward the end of the film, Buster reveals he is fearful of the future and doesn’t want to go for it anymore. It says in the Bible 365 different times, “Do not fear,” and the Scriptures remind us how fear is not from God. Isaiah 35:4 is an interesting example here:

Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”

In addition to that, the movie reinforces the idea of how money and materialism should not be a guiding force in what we do for a living. With the exception of Mike, the entire cast of the singing show comes to realize that the competition is much more than just the prize. It’s for showing their talent and for the sheer joy of doing it. Buster even says, “It’s not for the prize, they are singing for them.” Ecclesiastes talks about this more, in general:

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. —Ecclesiastes 5:10

After Buster hits a rough spot, and his error is revealed, his own cast comes to check on him and to figure out what they can do to help him get back on his feet. Meena even makes him a cake to cheer him up. The very idea of the other characters putting aside their self-focused ambitions to help out and care for someone else, even if he may not be the most enjoyable person, is a very positive theme that Mark 12:31 makes very clear:

The second most important command is this: “Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself. These two commands are the most important.”

In addition to that, Eddie (voiced by John C. Reilly) is a true friend to Buster. He willingly sets aside his own personal plans to help Buster when he is in need. In the meantime, he also isn’t afraid of expressing honesty to Buster’s crazy-ish plans. And in the midst of the craziness, he makes time for him and sticks by him. This kind of friend is the kind Ecclesiastes encouragestoo:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. —Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Negative Content

Adult Content: A few mild suggestive jokes make their way into the script, but most of them don’t go too far. One somewhat annoying audition gag has three bunnies twerking to the tune of Nicki Minaj’s very inappropriate song, “Anaconda.” They rap, “Oh my gosh, look at her butt!” once or twice. A flamboyant pig named Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll) sheds a tight sparkly suit to reveal a leotard that Rosita comments, “reveals a lot of skin.” The character is somewhat effeminate, but is merely in the film for laughs. Gunter tries to encourage Rosita to let the music “take control of her body parts,” and she later dons a “catsuit” of sorts. It is hinted that Ash and her boyfriend live together, but it’s never discussed, and we never see them embrace or even kiss. We do see Rosita and her husband kiss once. Mike woos a female mouse. Buster and Eddie are seen only wearing Speedos once or twice to wash cars.

Violence: Some slapstick violence and peril. One small animal is implied to have been stepped on. Someone trips and falls on stage. One character is threatened and nearly eaten a couple of times by three intimidating bears. ***SPOILER*** Water floods the theater, and nearly traps/drowns a handful of characters. It floods the road, and characters are swept away. The same theater then crumples to the ground. ***END SPOILER*** Ash tosses her quills on unsuspecting audience members and friends. Buster is thrown out into the street. We see the result of a car accident, and nearly witness one or two others.

Drugs/Alcohol: One stray joke is made when a character sees an asthma inhaler (“what do you smoke out of this?”). We see mixed drinks at a club.

Language: Thankfully, nothing really offensive. “Oh my gosh” and “what the heck?” are used several times. Name-calling includes “old fart” and a “total super-jerk dinkleschplatt.”

Other: Buster lies and manipulates (but later faces the music for his actions). Mike gambles a handful of times, and cheats also. He robs an innocent civilian of his money. He also insults and treats almost everyone in a very mean way. Buster is often very blunt with the contestants. Johnny’s dad and his gang pull off two heists. The father (from a prison phone), upon hearing of Johnny being in the singing competition, verbally disowns his own son (though he does change his tune later). The only toilet humor gag in the film is from a character passing gas twice, due to nerves.

While we don’t hear many lyrics from the songs, the song list includes artists such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, etc. Some parents might need to discuss with their children ahead of time, before they decide to possibly search more for the songs they hear (some of which are not so innocent).

Conclusion

“Sing” is an interesting (if not very original) concept. It showcases songs from today and yesterday, 2010s and the 1970s, and everything in between. I thought it was a fun and memorable tease. And, according to executive producer Chris Meledandri, they had to get copyright clearance for at least 65 songs. That’s very impressive.

I had a ball with this movie. It was as fun as I was hoping it would be, there’s great music (I have the soundtrack) and, at the same time, there’s a well-developed story to support all the music. Most of the main characters are given at least decent development, and just about everyone is perfectly cast. In addition to that, solid messages on selflessness, focusing on personal talent over materialism, and overcoming fear are all nicely-presented and really effective.

That isn’t to say “Sing” is a perfect film. At times, like the talent shows it emulates, such as “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice,” it puts in a few (light) suggestive moments for the adults, but they will likely sail over children’s heads. There’s some bad and inadvisable behavior, but most of it is punished. The negative content, overall, if anything, is only slightly edgier than Illumination’s last effort, “The Secret Life of Pets.”

Due to some of the songs used, I do advise parental discretion for young viewers, as parents may object to some of the playlist. But, for older kids and parents, “Sing” is one of the most fun movies of the year, with some very admirable themes.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This is a fun movie for the family with older children. The inclusion of the one negative song about “look at her bu**” was a disappointment but that act was kicked out of the trials so there’s justice for the bad taste. But good parallel stories for each of the contestants makes the movie a good story. Maybe not Academy Award stuff, but I enjoyed it, my wife enjoyed it, and my adult son enjoyed it. Good messages throughout. Crime doesn’t pay, overcome your fears, do what you were meant to do with passion, don’t give up, and more.

I think it is hysterical that the director was the voice of the aged lizard admin of the theater owner. I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and left with a smile on my face. The singing is, of course, spectacular, and so many great songs are sprinkled throughout the movie. Go see it for a very fun evening.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Blaine, age 55 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this movie knowing that I was in for a treat ,just by the previews of it; however I DIDN'T expect to laugh out loud and feel for the characters in the movie the way I did. I personally loved momma Pig and Mr. koala bear. I even liked the girl porcupine and the gorilla. It was a good time at the movies for young and old alike. Go see it. My only word of caution is that it does have rather adult subject matter, at times. The boy porcupine cheats on the female porcupine and makes it look like it is her fault for not being home by his side. The gorilla father is a con man. But if you think you can handle the situations listed above, then, by all means, go see it. Take the family; this is a very good time for all.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Chris, age 27 (USA)
Positive—I absolutely LOVED the movie enough to write a review. I have very high moral standards, and aside from the “look at her butt” comment by the dancing bunnies in costume, I found nothing to frown at. I kept waiting for something offensive to crop up, but it didn’t. There is no homosexual agenda being pushed, bad language, cross dressing or whatever.

Also, there was very little if any obvious stereotypes portrayed in the movie and no weird illuminati themes or whatever. I’m very pleased. Anyone who would get offended at this movie probably doesn’t even watch movies anymore. Not only is the movie clean, it is quite enjoyable. It deserves a “Better than Average” rating. See all »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Sanna, age 29 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I saw this movie, two times. Mr. Moon lies about the money, tries to hide what really happened. Mike (mouse) is greedy, gambles, cheats in cards. I wonder if there is a lesson we should learn in this movie?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Thomas Dickensheets, age 55 (USA)
Negative
Negative—What would YOU say about a movie that encourages mothers to leave their young kids alone at home, again and again, so the mothers can pursue a singing career? As usual, Hollywood mixes their dark agenda with pretty colors and bouncy tunes, so they can convince the unsuspecting that theirs is a perfect path to pursue. Don’t be fooled… again! What is being taught is to put one’s ego-driven aspirations above all else.

To me, serving God is the most important thing, and if my preferences come into play while doing that (like singing in a choir, or even secular singing as my chosen career), that’s fine. But “Sing” promotes child neglect and other very questionable behavior to attain one’s goals, and that is not what we want our children to learn.

To be honest, it’s hard, if not impossible, to find a movie that doesn’t have their dark agenda woven into it, so we do see movies like this sometimes. Talk with your kids beforehand, if you feel they’re mature enough, about the fact that sometimes moviemakers don’t make good choices, and that they need to be prayed for. Thanks, and God bless!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alex, age 27 (USA)

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Movie Critics
…A veritable farmyard of fun. …
Leslie Felperin, Variety
…just charming enough to keep anyone looking for a family-friendly 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…surprisingly easy on the ears. …
Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post
…“Sing” doesn’t reinvent the family animation, offer an original premise or even tight storytelling, but it does deliver hugely likeable characters and a rousing finale. …[3½/5]
Francesca Rudkin, New Zealand Herald
…“Sing” is relentlessly amiable, and has little in the way of vulgar humor. …
Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
…It's how these creatures from different walks of life interact while being “trained” by Buster that makes the film so strange and funny. …[4/5]
Edward Douglas, New York Daily News
…In a year full of talking-animal hits, “Sing” isn't quite as strong a number. It’s a tale that might not be particularly thought-provoking but sure is toe-tapping. …
Brian Truitt, USA Today
…feels less like the work of an artist burning to put across a deeply personal vision than a slick commercial product designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. …poverty of imagination in the film's shallow characterizations and clichéd storylines… [1½/4]
Kenji Fujishima, Slant
…As cinema, this isn’t anything I’m too enthused about. As a business triumph, there’s reason to sing its praises. …[3/5]
Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian (UK)
…You’re either someone who didn’t like “American Idol” at all or you’re someone who loved it and and believed the concept could only be improved upon with the addition of talking cartoon animals. …
Sarah Miller, Vulture
…It’s like cycling through an extremely basic iPod on shuffle with an itchy trigger finger. …
Jesse Hassenger, A.V. Club
…“Sing,” like its yearning-for-validation characters, mostly just radiates desperation. …
Stephanie Zacharek, Time