For the first few minutes of Sing, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re watching a sequel to one of last year’s best animated movies, Zootropolis. All creatures great and small are commuting to offices, mostly shirted but pantless, politely not eating each other. Unlike Zootropolis, which wove subtle, intelligent social commentary into the comedy, Sing swiftly makes it clear that it’s not here for anything other than a good time – and a good time it has.
There’s the thinnest suggestion of a plot to justify what’s really merely a staging of The X Factor with cuter mammals. Matthew McConaughey voices a koala who nurtures dreams of being a big theatre producer but is running his business into the ground. He comes up with an idea to make his name by staging a talent show that will give the winner a mediocre prize of $1,000. Thanks to a mishap by his ancient assistant Miss Crawly – a glass-eyed iguana, voiced by director Garth Jennings – who adds an additional two zeroes to the flyer, huge crowds turn up with the expectation of becoming rich.
They include a bored pig housewife (Reese Witherspoon), a gorilla who doesn’t want to join his dad’s criminal gang (Taron Egerton), a dark teenage porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) and a very shy elephant (American singer Tori Kelly). Which of them will be victorious? Will the show be a hit? Thanks to character development too meagrely eked out across a large cast, there’s not much reason to invest in the answers to these questions. Yet somehow, out of nowhere, it finds a complete delight of an ending. Jennings hasn’t made a movie since 2007’s wonderful Son Of Rambow and it’s not until the final 30 minutes that he finds his feet again. His finale has emotional payoffs slickly edited into a big, rousing supply of song and dance. It remains low on substance, but all concerns about a lack of smart subtext fly out the window when you’re enjoying the spectacle of a pig vamping to Taylor Swift while dressed as some sort of disco Batgirl.