Sing; one world that encapsulates the heart of fight for the American dream of stardom. Hollywood meets Miami meets San-Francisco meets the animal world in this heartfelt animation that follows the stories of numerous different characters all, competing in a talent show, for a grand head-lining prize of $100 000 dollars, offered up by showman koala, Buster Moon. Played by Matthew Mconaughey and typecast in an incredibly Matthew Mconaughey-esque role, Buster is upbeat, positive, and also a hopeless mess. His prized theater, the culmination of his father’s life’s work for his son’s sake, stands to be lost if it doesn’t see success again, and soon.
From here on we meet a multitude of interesting characters who all seek escape from their mundane and low-down lives in the excitement and promise that that the talent show and prize money could win. Mum Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) leaves her 25 piglets to be a star, Johnny, (Taron Egerton) the son of a criminal gangster escapes his family life of crime to croon out soul-seeking songs as his true, pure, nature intends. Ash (Scarlett Johansson) is an angsty teen porcupine with a cruel rocker boyfriend and a destiny to fulfil, Mike (Seth McFarlane) is a street musician mouse who dreams of being king, and Meena (Tori Kelly) is a sweet and shy young elephant, afraid of igniting her wildfire talent.
But among all their efforts to win, what this crew doesn’t know is that the prize of $100 000 was a typo, made by Buster’s frail old secretary, Miss Crawley. Buster is broke, and as much as the competition is a scramble for everyone else, it’s a question of how Buster will actually come out of this without creating a disaster.
Despite his tenacity and can-do attitude, eventually some kind of disaster does reach every single participant, including Buster, and finally, the theatre itself. Yet from the shambles of broken dreams and a destroyed theatre does the spirit of “the show must go on” rise, to a glorious culmination that prove what talent and tenacity really are.
The animation by Illumination is beautifully detailed, the music is diverse and while the story does have its far-stretched moments, each scene is carried through by comedy that sits on a good balance between witty and slapstick, with heartfelt moments scattered all through to keep you connected to each character and story. This movie has all the elements of a winning story, and while it may not be a life changing film I do think it’s an animation film that is strongly characteristic of this generation, with our love for talent competitions and our lives reflected back at us; for the first movie to have been directed by Garth Jennings, Sing is a charming movie and a fantastic tribute to Hollywood’s ever growing collection of stories and dreams.
A tremendous amount of effort has been put into this DVD set, in that it features seven sets of special features to compliment the film. Here we find the features of three Mini Movies, ‘The making of Sing’, the ‘Faith’ music video, the ‘Set It All Free’ lyric video, the ‘Faith’ sing and dance section, the ‘Sing’ network, and finally, ‘The Best of Gunter.’ Following these, we even get a brief look at the making of the mini movies themselves.
Each mini movie featured is approximately 3-4 minutes long, and they are, namely, ‘Gunter Babysits’ which is an adventure befitting of the name,“Love at first sight,” an old Hollywood style romance, and “Eddie’s life coach,” in which we find Buster’s bum of a best friend, spoiled millennial Eddie the sheep, forced by his parents to undergo life improvement by his mother with the help of a 24/7 virtual life coach.
The short films allow you to pay attention to characters that are central to the film’s narrative, but whose background we might have missed out on during the film. They are just as precious as the film itself and it takes a small amount of guesswork to make out that this is all part of the intense amount of detail and effort that went into crafting the Sing universe. Following the film shorts, we are taken on a human world journey behind the scenes, from LA to Paris, following the process of the making of the short films with the directors and illustrators who created them. Shared with us are their personal experiences, of intertwining their human multi-national universes to give birth to a single short film of the Sing universe.
In “The Making of Sing,” we are taken around the official round table where every notion and choice for the film was decided, to see how “the notion of a music driven show” has been conceptualized from start to finish, and piece by piece out into place. One meets the minds and real world talents behind the talent within the film, and we are presented with the creation of the setting, city, and ideas on the production line that led to the completed film. In addition to this, we are introduced to the actors behind the voices, and the influences they had brought in.
The “Faith” music video, featuring Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande, throws a heap of excitement and real life Hollywood glamour into the composition of this DVD set and beautifully compliments the film as a reflection of the real life stardom that the Sing characters so determinedly sought after.
The music video is actually a really cute visual summary of the movie as a whole, and it almost feels like a scene that could be part of the movie’s totality if it were designed to include human characters. Considering that this was a musical animation, the inclusion of an original music video to be featured on this DVD makes for a fabulous and complimentary feature. Following the “Faith” music video, the special features of the Sing DVD also includes a lyric video to the feature song “Set it all free,” which, in the movie, is an original by the character of punk rocker ‘Ash,’ but is in fact sung by Scarlett Johansson. The lyric video to this rock number features bright and eye-popping typography, blended with scenes and shots from the movie.
In a final addition to the musical investments of the special features in the Sing DVD set, we are offered a “Sing and Dance” routine to the Sing original track, “Faith” inspired by Sing choreographer Wayne McGregor. The “Sing and Dance” feature encompasses a dance routine broken into three separate sections and taught step by step, with moves created ‘in the spirit of Sing.’ The final product comes together flawlessly and in fact matches the choreography style within the movie to a mirror-like effect – one could almost say that these are moves from the performances within the movie itself.
“The Sing Network” is a cleverly created series of advertisements created for, or by, the characters in the movie to be offered within the Sing universe.“Gunter’s Dance Studio” imagines a captivating ad featuring Gunter offering ‘piggy power’ dance lessons in a studio all of his own. “The Moon Theatre” is a show-stopping ad for Buster’s theatre and the entertainment and performances it offers. “Rosita’s Babysitting Gizmo” is actually a brilliant 90’s style infomercial marketing offer for the invention Rosita had created to take care of her husband and 25 piglets that she had created, when she needed to escape to rehearsals. And finally, “Miss Crawley’s Match Making Service” is a reference to the earlier short, “Love at First Sight,” in which Miss Crawley’s winning shot at love offers a similar option to you.
In a major added bonus, the creators of this movie went as far as creating even a news network similar to the E-Entertainment Hollywood style of journalism and produced short advertisement pieces of each one of the Sing performers story of stardom as seen through the eyes of those within the Sign Universe’s media industry. Creating adverts for Sing’s True Entertaining Stories takes the creation of the Sign universe to an extremely in depth level, as brief reports at a prelude to a larger E-True Hollywood Story style of an exclusive report on Buster, Gunter, Rosita, Johnny, Meena, Ash and Mike. Though these are all created using scenes from the movie, the narration and creative vision behind each one minute segment is entirely unique, and shows off the creative capacities of the minds that went into this film, to no end.
In the final piece of the special features section of the Sing DVD, “The Best of Gunter” is a series of shots from the movie that highlight Gunter’s fabulous personality, created using his scenes and lines throughout the entire film all with an upbeat feel to it. Considering that he plays an important role in the film, but does not have as much of a back story as the other characters, this short segment creates an audience for Gunter’s moments to really shine through. As this is the last of the special features, I find that it’s a happy and sweet note to have ended the many special features with, proof of just how much the producers wanted each character to be highlighted, and particularly one feature that truly encapsulates the spirit of the movie.
You may find enjoyment and appreciation within the film but it is the Sing DVD set that holds the true value of this Illumination Entertainment production. I would safely say that this is perhaps their best work to date, and for you, the reader of this review, if you hire the movie to watch you’ll have entertainment for the weekend but if you buy the DVD set you’ll have bought a little part of the Illumination Entertainment universe.
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