Sing (2016)

A review by Shlomoh Sherman
January 14, 2017

Sing (2016)
Directors: Christophe Lourdelet, Garth Jennings
Writer: Garth Jennings
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, - See Sing on IMDB site for full cast
Plot Summary: In a city of humanoid animals, a hustling theater impresario's attempt to save his theater with a singing competition becomes grander than he anticipates even as its finalists' find that their lives will never be the same. A koala named Buster Moon has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world's greatest singing competition.
Plot Keywords: singing - furry - singing contest - cgi animation - theatre
Tagline: Auditions begin Christmas
Genres: Animation - Comedy - Drama - Family - Music
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA): Rated PG for some rude humor and mild danger
Parents Guide: violence, profanity, frightening, intense scenes
Country: USA - UK - Japan
Language: English - Japanese - Ukrainian
Release Date: December 21, 2016 (USA)
Also Known As: Welcome to the Auditions
Box Office:
Budget: $75,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $35,258,145 (USA) (December 23, 2016)
Gross: $217,358,500 (USA) (January 10, 2017)
Company Credits:
Production Co: Dentsu, Fuji Television Network, Hammer & Tongs, Illumination Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Runtime: 108 min
Most Anticipated Film: Fall 2016 Edition
Nominations: Best Original Song - Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture - Animated, Best Movie for Grownups Who Refuse to Grow Up


I am not a fan of animated movies and I usually avoid them. Yes, of course when I was a child, I loved the Disney fairy tale films. But as an adult, not so much. So when my friend Lorraine suggested seeing Sing, a movie I had never heard of, since I had seen all the new movies that were on my list, I thought, why not. I asked what the movie is about and learned that it a story about a bunch of animals entering a talent contest in a show not unlike AMERICA'S GOT TALENT.

I was in for a surprise. I really like this movie.

Watching the performances of a shy but talented teen girl elephant, an overworked mother pig with a litter of 25 piglets, a young gorilla seeking freedom from his gangster family, and a rock star porcupine breaking up with her boyfriend who has an exaggerated view of his self-centered importance and abilitiy, it's amazing how thoroughly entertained I was for those wonderful 108 minutes.

The talent show is put together by a down-on-his-luck but fatally optimistic koala, Buster Moon, who desires to restore the faded glory of his once grand theater by producing the world's greatest singing competition.

There is really not much to say about the story and its predictability, actually the individual stories of each of the leading performers, other than that these creatures make the audience feel affection for them and cheer them on as they sing their hearts out [please excuse the cliche but it fits here].

The producers of SING have assembled an amazing array of performers for the voices behind the characters, and although mostly known for their acting, each one sings in his and her own voice, and their singing ability is awesome.

I have read some really mixed reviews. The negative ones are not just awful; they are horrid. I don't understand why some critics just can't relax and enjoy an entertainig children's movie also geared to adults. One actually good review appears on the website at, and I quote:
Director/writer Garth Jennings (live-action cult faves “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," “Son of Rambow”)—expanding upon a concept conceived by Illumination CEO and founder Chris Meledandri (whose animation house was also behind the summer success “The Secret Life of Pets,” and the Minions phenom)—relies on an even older tradition. Namely, those “HEY, LET’S PUT ON A SHOW” movies from the ‘30s and ‘40s that paired a youthful JUDY GARLAND and MICKEY ROONEY as they saved the day with song and dance. There is a reason iT’S A TRIED AND TRUE UNDERDOG FORMULA, and it mostly works here.
But all this is just a build-up to “Sing’s” crowning glory of a 30-minute finale. Just when Buster’s plans all go kaput in a sequence that rivals “THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE,” a heavenly voice is heard. And, suddenly, the contest takes a back seat to simply celebrating and sharing one’s vocal gifts to bring joy to others with a full-blown concert as these critters break loose with well-curated classics by the likes of Stevie Wonder and Elton John.

In his own December review on the Internet Movie DataBase, Wewilsons has this to say:
I was very surprised at this movie. The depth of the character development for animated people/animal things. The number of characters was complex but complimentary. The thorough plot and plot twists. And then the music, singing. Super heavyweight Jen Hudson, pros like Reese Witherspoon, Tori, Jennifer Saunders, John Reilly. The singing built up throughout. And shocker to me Scarlett Johansonn was awesome. Its got fart jokes, jiggly pig bellies, sad family tales and a really super ending.

KUDOS TO Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon. He is best remembered by me for his role as the cynical policeman on the tv series, TRUE DETECTIVE, and as the AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club.
KUDOS TO Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, the lady pig. Best remembered by me for her roles in Pleasantville, Fear, Water for Elephants, Walk the Line and The Good Lie.
KUDOS TO Scarlett Johansson as Ash, the porcupine rocker. Best remembered by me for her roles in Lucy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Her, Iron Man 2, Match Point and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Johansson is endeared to me and other ardent Zionists for her refusal to go along with the antisemitic BDS movement when she refused to stop doing commercials for SodaStream, an Israeli produced soft drink.
KUDOS TO John C. Reilly as Eddie the sheep, Buster's partner. Best remembered by me for his roles in Gangs Of New York, Magnolia and Boogie Nights.
KUDOS TO Tori Kelly as Meena, the elephant. She is unknown to me, never having seen her in any film.
KUDOS TO Jay Pharoah as Meena's Grandfather. Obviously Jay is remembered by me as a very funny comic on Saturday NIght Live.

Did You Know?

The first film to be directed by Garth Jennings in nearly ten years following Son of Rambow (2007). This film also represents first foray into animated filmmaking.
The fifth animated feature film of 2016, next to Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016), The Angry Birds Movie (2016), Finding Dory (2016), and Zootopia (2016), to be set in a world of anthropomorphic animals.
The film features over 85 hit songs from the 1940s to the present day.
The movie is dedicated in the credits to Igor. Igor Khait was an Animation Producer in the movie who died (at 52 from pancreatic cancer) during production.
The song the five Japanese Red Pandas perform is "Kira Kira Killer" by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
When Ash's guitar is unplugged and she starts stomping the beat on the stage - Porcupines actually do stomp their feet as a warning when they are scared.
Songs associated with three different artists who died in 2016 are on the movie's soundtrack. "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (George Michael), "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen), and "Under Pressure" (David Bowie).
When Ash plays the final chord on her guitar during the concert, her body position and the audience reaction resembles that of Marty McFly playing Johnny B. Goode in Back to the Future.
A sneak peek of the teaser trailer was released on February 11, 2016, featuring animals singing certain popular songs: 1.) A pig singing (and dancing to) 'Bad Romance' by Lady Gaga. 2.) A buffalo singing 'Butterfly' by Crazy Town. 3.) A sheep singing 'Kiss from a Rose' by Seal. 4.) A trio of rabbits singing 'Baby's Got Back' by SirMixALot. 5.) A snail singing 'Ride Like the Wind' by Christopher Cross. 6.) The pig that tripped was starting to sing 'Venus' by Bananarama.
The second film in 2016 to feature Scarlett Johansson in a voice-over role, following The Jungle Book (2016).
This is Reese Witherspoon's first animated movie since Monsters vs. Aliens (2009).
Mike's contribution during the final show is "My Way", a song originally and famously performed by Frank Sinatra. In real life, Seth MacFarlane is well known for his renditions of Sinatra's songs, impersonating his singing voice.
There are at least two references to Back to the Future (1985) When Ash does her guitar solo and the music stops and everyone is staring at her silently, it's similar to Marty doing the solo at the dance in Back to the Future. Also When Buster Moon is trying to steal power from the neighboring building, he is walking outside on the ledge with an extension cord. This scene is similar to Doc Brown trying to connect the cable in Back to the Future. Moon's cable is too short and the ledge breaks out from under his feet

Contrary to popular belief, porcupines cannot shoot their quills from their bodies. Quills are released by contact, or may fall out when a porcupine shakes its body. But, when Ash shakes during her performances and her quills fly out at a considerable distance, this is just for comedic effect.
Ash's guitar has fret inlays on the 4th, 6th, 8th and 13th frets. Normal positions for inlays are on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 12th frets. The inlays don't affect the playability of the guitar, but they serve as visual guides for key positions on the fret board and can confuse a player who relies on them.

Miss Crawly: Has anyone seen my glass eye?
Buster Moon: Why aren't you rehearsing?
Frog: I'm through! They said I'm an intolerable egomaniac. I don't even know what that means!
Johnny: [talking to his father through an inmate phone service] Dad, I just don't want to end up being in your gang. I want to be a singer.
Big Daddy: How do I end up with a son like you?
Johnny: [as he father storms off] I'll get you out! Dad, wait! I'll get the money, I promise!
Gunter: This stage is about to explode with major piggy power!
Buster Moon: [Hears Meena singing 'Hallelujah' on her headphones] You think you can sing like that? In front of an audience?
Meena: I don't know. But I'd like to try.
Buster Moon: Good. Because I want to see it.
Buster Moon: [showing her a shiny, overly flashy outfit he wants Ash to wear for the performance] Isn't this a great color for you?
Ash: I can't tell. It's melting my eyes.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) - Nana's entrance down the staircase imitates Norma Desmnond's famous descent. She also wears a similar headdress, and her penguin butler resembles Erich Von Stroheim.
The Porky Pig Show (1964) (TV Series)- Mike calls Rosita and Gunter Porky in some scenes of the film.
The Muppet Show (1976) (TV Series) - Anthropomorphic animals, including pigs, sing famous songs on a stage.
Once Upon a Time in America (1984) - Judith the evil banker's initial appearance is heralded by the pan-flute stinger from the Leone epic.

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Golden Slumbers Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney Performed by Jennifer Hudson
The Way I Feel Inside Written by Rod Argent
I Don't Wanna Written by Garth Jennings and David Bassett Produced by David Bassett
Happy Birthday Traditional
Baker Street Written by Gerry Rafferty (as Gerald Rafferty)
Crazy in Love Written by Eugene Record, Jay Z (as Shawn Carter), Beyoncé Knowles and Richard Christopher Harrison (as Rich Harrison)
Jump Written by Alex Van Halen, Edward Van Halen (as Eddie Van Halen) and David Lee Roth
Kira Kira Killer Written by Yasutaka Nakata
Butterfly Written by Seth Binzer, Bret Mazur, Anthony Kiedis Flea, (as Michael Balzary) John Frusciante and Chad Smith
Anaconda Written by Sir Mix A Lot, (as Anthony Ray) Nicki Minaj, (as Onika Maraj) Polow Da Don, (as Jamal Jones) Jonathan Solone-Myvett (as Jonathan Myvett), Marcos Palacios and Ernie Clark
Humpty Dance Written by Bootsy Collins, (as William "Bootsy" Collins) Shock-G (as Gregory Jacobs), George Clinton and Walter Morrison
The Safety Dance Written by Ivan Doroschuk
Ride Like the Wind Written by Christopher Cross
Stay with Me Written by Sam Smith, James Napier, Tourist (as William Phillips), Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne
Pennies from Heaven Written by Johnny Burke and Arthur Johnston
Strange Loop Written and Performed by Garth Jennings
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Star Crawl Written by Bradley Hargett, JB Townsend, Jean-Baptiste Gueracague, Andrew Adler, Keegan Cooke and Kyle Forester Performed by Crystal Stilts Courtesy of Sacred Bones Records
Go! Team Go! Traditional
Childhood Memories from Once Upon a Time in America Written and Performed by Ennio Morricone Courtesy of New Regency Entertainment, Inc.
Sucker Punch Written by Ali Dee (as Ali Theodore) and Zach Danziger Performed by Boomish Courtesy of Deetown Entertainment
Let's Face the Music and Dance Written by Irving Berlin
Venus Written by Robbie van Leeuwen (as Robert van Leeuwen)
Call Me Maybe Written by Carly Rae Jepsen, Tavish Crowe and Josh Ramsay Performed by Carly Rae Jepsen Courtesy of School Boy/Interscope Records and 604 Records Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
Pon de Floor Written by Afrojack, (as Nick van de Wall) Diplo (as Thomas Pentz), Switch (as Dave Taylor) and Vybz Kartel (as Adidja Palmer) Performed by Major Lazer feat. Vybz Kartel Courtesy of Mad Decent By Arrangement with Downtown Records, LLC
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Around the World (Rumba) Written by Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo Performed by Uwe Schmidt (as Señor Coconut and His Orchestra) Courtesy of Essay Recordings
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Under Pressure Written by Brian May, David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Roger Taylor Performed by Queen and David Bowie Queen Courtesy of Hollywood Records, Inc. for USA and Canada Courtesy of Island Records Limited Under License from Universal Music Enterprises David Bowie Courtesy of RZO Music
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Kiss from a Rose Written by Seal (as Henry Samuel)
I Love My Shirt Written by Donovan (as Donovan Leitch)
Stout-Hearted Men Written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Sigmund Romberg Performed by Shooby Taylor, "The Human Horn" Courtesy of William Taylor, Jr. By Arrangement with Irwin Chusid
Lollipop Written by Julius Dixon and Beverly Ross
9 to 5 Written by Dolly Parton
The Ketchup Song (Aserejé) Written by Queco (as Francisco Manuel Ruiz Gomez)
Ben Written by Don Black and Walter Scharf
Chandelier Written by Jesse Shatkin and Sia (as Sia Furler)
Garota de Ipanema Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes
Ninja Re Bang Bang Written by Yasutaka Nakata
Canon in D Written by Johann Pachelbel
Million Bucks (feat. Swizz Beatz) Written by Swizz Beatz (as Kasseem Dean), Jermaine 'Maino' Coleman (as Jermaine Coleman) and Avery Chambliss Performed by Maino Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film and TV Licensing
Hold On, We're Going Home Written by Noah Shebib, Jordan Ullman, Majid Al Maskati, Drake (as Aubrey Graham) and Paul Jeffries Performed by Drake feat. Majid Jordan Courtesy of Cash Money Records Under License from Universal Music Enterprises
The Wind Written by Cat Stevens (as Yusuf/Cat Stevens) Performed by Cat Stevens Courtesy of Island Records Limited Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Con amor muore...tu, tu? Piccolo iddio Written by Giacomo Puccini Performed by Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi and Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Conducted by Tullio Serafin Courtesy of Decca Music Group Limited Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Love Interruption Written by Jack White
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Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go Written by George Michael Performed by Wham! Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment U.K., Ltd. and Columbia Records By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Hallelujah Written by Leonard Cohen
My Way Written by Paul Anka, Jacques Revaux, Gilles Thibault and Claude François
Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing Written by Stevie Wonder
Faith Written by Ryan Tedder, Stevie Wonder and Francis Farewell Starlite (as Francis Farewell Starlight) Produced by Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco Performed by Stevie Wonder featuring Ariana Grande Stevie Wonder Appears Courtesy of Wonder Power Music, Distributed by RLG, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc. Ariana Grande Appears Courtesy of Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

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Cast overview, first billed only: <BR>
Matthew McConaughey ... Buster Moon (voice)
Reese Witherspoon ... Rosita (voice)
Seth MacFarlane ... Mike (voice)
Scarlett Johansson ... Ash (voice)
John C. Reilly ... Eddie (voice)
Taron Egerton ... Johnny (voice)
Tori Kelly ... Meena (voice)
Jennifer Saunders ... Nana (voice)
Jennifer Hudson ... Young Nana (voice)
Garth Jennings ... Miss Crawly / Additional Voices (voice)
Peter Serafinowicz ... Big Daddy (voice)
Nick Kroll ... Gunter (voice)
Beck Bennett ... Lance (voice)
Jay Pharoah ... Meena's Grandfather (voice)
Nick Offerman ... Norman (voice)

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