Going back to the more typical style of content today, posting about a film that was a huge surprise hit with me. It’s animated, it’s full of animals, and it’s musical. Yep, I’m talking about Sing.
Written and directed by Garth Jennings, Sing has a cast full of anthropomorphic animals with big dreams and various problems that stand in their way. Buster Moon, an idealistic (and pretty much bankrupt) koala who needs one good show to save his theatre, asks his ancient assistant Ms. Crawley to make out leaflets advertising a singing competition with $1000 prize money. She mistakenly adds an extra two zeroes, attracting lots of people to audition and setting the rest of the film in motion. After recruiting his group of potential stars, from the arrogant Frank Sinatra-esque mouse, Mike, to the stay-at-home music-loving momma pig, Rosita, Buster realises the problem with the prize money but decides that he will try to ride it out rather than come clean. His plans grow grander and grander as he tries to attract funding and each of the competitors struggles with their own conflicts in the build up to the show.
Sing has a sizeable main cast. Usually this means that some storylines get skimped on or sacrificed for the wider plot and this is particularly true for animations and/or children’s films. My only problem with Sing is that it was really hard to summarise because it does not do that. Each of the main characters has a nicely rounded storyline that interweaves well with the central plot. The individual character arcs contribute to the main events seamlessly and no one’s story felt more significant or important. This made me ridiculously happy.
Buster, the show business-loving but unfortunately money-not-having koala, is the probably the closest you get to a MAIN main character in Sing but that is largely because of his position as the show runner. It’s his ambition that brings the cast together. And he is a great lead in to the world because he’s just so clear. He isn’t the typical theatre character – he’s not bitchy, he’s not overly conniving (yes, a little deceptive when it comes to his money situation), and he’s all about the love of his art. Everything he does is because he loves the theatre and feels that he needs to succeed because his father sacrificed so much to help him get it. He works hard to bring out the best in all the other characters and, as shown in a scene with Ash the porcupine, he isn’t afraid to admit someone else’s idea was better. He doesn’t try to steal the credit of the performers but instead seems set on making them shine. His folly is his over-ambition (set made of squid tanks, asking the famous Nana singer to attend a private showing so that she will fund him, ect) and it does catch up with him (rather dramatically!) but that’s also what makes him such a relatable character for me.
In truth, all the characters in Sing are really relatable. They represent different walks of life and this makes it such a connectible film. Buster, obviously, has big dreams and feels the pressure of the opportunities he has been given. Meena, the shy elephant, has been too afraid to go after what she really wants but eventually pulls through. Rosita, the stay-at-home momma pig with 25 piglets and an oblivious husband, has been downtrodden by the lack of appreciation she gets but manages to wake up her hubby with her performance. Johnny, a young gorilla with a criminal father, is faced with a choice between familial responsibility and his dreams but eventually gets his father onside (genuine tear-jerking moment!). Ash, an angsty teenage porcupine, struggles with conforming to her boyfriend’s wishes to keep him and her own wants but ends up finding the positives in breaking free. And Mike, the mouse, covers up his insecurities with arrogance and learns how that can go wrong. Urgh, I just love them all!
I could go on about the animation and singing but, to be honest, they’re not the best part for me. I’d expected to enjoy Sing for the music. And I do! But it is how well the individual stories have been woven together that makes this film really stand out. Ensemble casts can be hard to handle but Sing does it with finesse, balance, and heart – I honestly can’t think of many films that have done it better.