Kids (and adults) will love new animated film

By Gary Clift

The new animated film “Sing” deserved all the promotion it got, months and months of previews and posters and TV mentions.

Adults who have seen the trailers have essentially seen the movie.

But this won’t bother kids, who are the film’s target audience. Even if they know what’s going to happen next, they like it. In fact, they may like seeing things over and over again better than they like seeing them the first time. As it happens there are some new elements in “Sing.” It begins by introducing its main characters, and an overhead camera shot moves from location to location to do so.

If the animation isn’t technically anything new, it has been worked out in great detail.

Moviegoers will want to check out the difference between the freckled skin of the pig characters, the fur of the koala, and the wool of the sheep. And the complexity of the story helps, too.

Not that the story is so complicated that the young will have trouble following along. But every time the viewer thinks the story ideas are over and the movie is about ready to dive to its climax and ending, something new comes up.

Moon the koala and failed theater promoter (with the voice of Matthew McConaughey) and his friend the sheep turn to car washing late in the picture. That was a surprise. And writer and co-director Garth Jennings has thought through how the characters would go about cleaning a Chevy, too.

Their method is a surprise.

As one would expect of a movie named “Sing,” the film uses a lot of songs, most of them familiar and not necessarily recent pop hits. The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” figures twice. Early on we got the first installment of that as well as a few lines from the front of one song on the Zombies first album and a fair hunk of Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Loving” (with 16year-old Stevie Winwood’s vocals and Hammond chords).

So the music starts off in the 1960s. Other selections are more recent. “Haters gotta hate.” There are even five little Yorkies who behave and sing like Japanese teenagers.

There’s a version of “I’m Your Venus” and one of “My Boy Lollipop” and some swing stuff, most of it intended for a Sinatra impersonating white mouse (with Seth McFarland’s voice). Mike the mouse is one of a set of animals who want to sing in public. Moon offers a prize to the winner of an amateur singing contest, to be held at his theater.

But his ditzy, ancient secretary mistakenly makes the fliers calling for auditions say that the contest prize is $100,000, not $1,000.

Still, most of the applicants don’t turn out to be after the dough. Rosita the sow (Reese Witherspoon) feels she has become a household drudge and wants to prove she is talented. Punk hedge hog Ash (Scarlett Johansson) wants to prove she can star by herself after having broken up with her musical collaborator and beau.

Johnny the gorilla (Taron Edgerton) prefers crooning ballads to acting as his burglar dad’s getaway driver. Meena the shy elephant can’t overcome her stage fright despite her big voice. She accepts a job as a stage hand.

And Moon can’t raise the money for the prize.

Or the money for the mortgage on the theater. His attempt to attract an investor (as sort of Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Boulevard”) works until the huge aquarium he has built on and around the performing space breaks, flooding the theater building and causing its destruction.

How will all these troubles be resolved?

When it turns out Mike the mouse is a card cheat, we get the violent villains in place to force all the issues.

For kids, this good looking movie full of sympathetic characters has to be entertaining.

And “Sing” will probably hold the attention of the parents and grandparents in the audience. At least as long as they are not distracted by the sciatica-inducing cushions of the seemingly unsteady semireclining seats in the new downtown theater.

Just don’t expect things to turn out much different in the movie than they did in all the trailers.

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