Matthew McConaughey voices a koala in this charmless children’s film about animals singing covers of pop songs. There really isn’t a whole lot more to unpack. Just farmyard karaoke cut with a thin plot about a theatre going out of business. No allegory, no fable, subtext nor message to decipher beyond “a pig in a sparkling red leotard singing Lady Gaga is sort of funny if you’re a child or not thinking too hard”.
Where Zootopia teaches kids that discrimination is unfair and wrong and that we should try to make the world a better place, Sing has McConaughey’s koala booting a giraffe out of a singing contest because he’s too tall. His assistant is an elderly lizard, and as such is a confused moron and a liability. There’s also a shy and clumsy elephant who doesn’t believe in herself but has, surprise surprise, a beautiful singing voice.
We’re introduced to her at a birthday party, where she absent-mindedly steals focus from her grandfather by belting out a warble-tastic rendition of Happy Birthday. With all eyes now on her, the horrid pachyderm wrings her plate-sized hands and says “oops” a lot as praise is lavished upon the new centre of attention. Narcissism is dressed up as self-doubt, and a young audience is once again shown that society can only stand to look at your plain face as long as you can sing well enough to make up the difference.
There’s a nasty and selfish edge to the character writing, but worse is the absence of much resembling a joke throughout the entire movie. Animals behaving as humans is the biggest open goal in visual gag comedy, but not once does a pig take a shower in mud instead of water, or a sheep agree with the opinions of everyone around him.
To the film’s credit, deftly avoiding so many jokes must have taken some genuine effort, and the playlist – a mix of current and 80s hits to appease both generations – is enjoyable enough. The cutting edge CGI could fool you into thinking this film is better than it is, but Sing is the kind of dumb animated mulch you’d stick on the television to temporarily distract children whose worldviews you don’t particularly care about distorting.