Think The Blues Brothers crossed with The Commitments and played by the cuddly cast of Madagascar – Sing is a tightly-scripted rollick across the screen that will have you rooting for its unlikely stars, singing along and sitting on the edge of your chair.
Our group which ranged from 5 years old to 50 years old was entranced by Sing. The 5 year old, unusually for her, never took her eyes off the screen, while the 50 year old was hooting along to the ‘grown up’ jokes that swoop gently over the heads of the tinies.
Sing takes the phenomenon of our times, the televised talent shows of The X-Factor, The Voice etc, and galvanises it with a plot line that hinges on a white-knuckle race to save a theatre from bankruptcy.
The action, which takes place in an idealised San Francisco with an anthropomorphic populace, opens with shots that literally zoom into the lives of its key protagonists, taking a snapshot of their everyday existences and building the drama with the backstories beloved of the modern-day talent show genre.
Starting with Buster Moon, the koala theatre owner in love with greasepaint and the whole razzle dazzle of showbusiness, but unable to create a money-making hit, the camera takes off over the rollercoaster hills of the city to visit a cast of characters with only one thing in common - an ability to sing. They range from a cripplingly shy elephant to an egocentric mouse with mob connections who could croon the birds out of the trees.
The story arc takes off on a precipitous angle almost immediately, when Buster Moon’s ancient iguana assistant, Miss Crawly, accidentally leans on the zero key and unwittingly takes the prize money sky high, before printing the flyers which are then whipped out of the window on a gust of wind, taking them all over the city and igniting the hopes of hard-up, disillusioned singers all over town.
As their stories – and their talents - are teased out against the backdrop of Moon’s increasingly desperate attempts to pull off one last gamble to save his theatre, the highs and lows of the story line match the crazy contours of the city they’re played out in, and you’ll be gripped till the very end.
OK, some might say it’s movie-making by numbers, take a hugely successful premise – the talent show – cross it with a cliff hanger drama - the impending bankruptcy - and make it all super cute and fluffy with an anthropomorphic animal cast, and bob’s your uncle. Except, who cares when it’s this good? It’s like complaining about a knickerbocker glory because putting ice cream, whipped cream, strawberry sauce and fruit in a glass makes it more than the sum of its parts.