Remember "G"? Yeah, me neither. This one is PG. Fine. Singing cartoon animals don't deserve "G" anymore.
DIRECTORS: Christophe Lourdelet and Garth Jennings
IMDB fun fact: Garth Jennings directed Son of Rambow. Watch that movie. It's great. I cringed every time I saw this trailer. I wept for society at large, wondering what we've come to as a culture that animals singing popular songs was considered engaging entertainment. I more wept for myself knowing that I would have to see this movie because my kids like bright colors and animals singing. Please understand that most of the positive things I have to say about this movie is with the knowledge that I went into this movie with the lowest expectations possible.
This movie is the cinematic equivalent of three gummy bears. Okay, I ate three gummy bears. There was nothing wrong with those gummy bears, but I don't feel like a different person having eaten them. I can't recommend this movie because it is in no way great. I can't slam this movie because it is in no way terrible. It is its own premise: singing animals take part in a singing competition. But this is where I'm going to get nitpicky because I refuse to not notice things. At one point in time, there was a development meeting for this movie. Someone was watching America's Got Talent and thought that he or she could make a kids movie out of this. After all, how many people watch reality TV? (The answer is too many, but this is not the venue for this gripe.) So let's make a scripted (ahem...more scripted!) (NOT THE VENUE!) version of a reality TV show for kids. You know what kids like? Animals. So the characters are animals...for no reason whatsoever. Kids like animals, but let's never really address that they are animals unless an easy joke can be made. In a year where Zootopia wins a Golden Globe --congrats by the way --a movie that doesn't take advantage of the creative opportunities that present themselves is kind of a waste of space.
It is weird that this movie is made by the same studio that makes the Despicable Me movies. Normally, I don't point fingers at production houses, but the Illumination Entertainment love tacking Minions onto everything that they make. So this is really more on them. There are a couple of kind of funny moments in the trailer, but this is another example of a movie that shoved all of the creative and funny bits into the trailer. And this might be more of an attack on the trailer in general, but I was nervous to take my kids to this movie because it looked a little raunchy from the trailer itself. As a parent, I was thrilled that this movie was super tame, but what choice was being made by implying that the movie was going to tackle some heavier content? Was it trying to pull in the high school crowd? I did hear some of my study hall students talking about how they really wanted to see this movie, so I guess the marketing strategy worked. Boy, are they going to be let down.
I think the big jump between Pixar / Disney and other companies is the cheap jokes. There was about a one minute long fart joke. On top of that, the use of stereotypes may not be offensive by any means, but it seems pretty cheap. (And yeah, I'm guilty. I simply assumed Idris Elba was voicing one of the characters.) The two attitudes of children's movies are "They are easy to make...kids love everything" and "We are going to go into such intense detail that this will be talked about forever." I think the only movie that really meets the Disney standard is The Lego Movie, which is kind of a shame. Sing feels so disposable because every answer is an easy answer. There barely seems to be any love for this movie because it just exists. It's paint-by-numbers and it doesn't have to be. There's nothing to hate because everything is pretty safe, but I don't want to go to the theater just to forget the movie over time.
But don't worry, Sing. I won't be able to forget you. My kids will probably watch you a billion times before Frozen 2 comes out.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.