As a working mom whose job is covering entertainment, my daughter benefits a lot from my work -- particularly when it comes to seeing movies.
She has two shelves of DVDs, with another 10 or so digitally storied films on iPads. She can probably Chromecast Netflix with her eyes closed.
But here’s the thing: I love animated flicks just as much (maybe more) than she does. So when an early, midweek screening of SING hit my inbox, I RSVP'd for my family of three. She literally skipped through the aisle to her seat because she had become obsessed with SING’s trailer.
For months, my bubbly 6-year-old watched it over and over, pointing out every time the three bunnies bounced their cottontails to “Oh my gosh, look at her butt.” It always made her giggle.
I too began anticipating SING, but for a slightly different reason. Late last year, after seeing Brit Taron Egerton polish his impetuous ways in Kingsman: The Secret Service, I became an overnight fan. I began following him on Twitter, where he expressed his excitement about voicing a part in SING. I thought, this guy can deliver a melody as well as a punch? I gotta hear this. I bookmarked Dec. 21.
SING’s storyline moves along as expected: a down-on-his-luck dreamer, a Koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), must save his dilapidating theater from foreclosure. Scraping together his last coins and a watch, he announces a singing contest to drum up business. But his kooky assistant types $100,000 instead of a $1,000 prize and the whole town wants a shot at the money.
It’s here, at the audition, where the joy ride begins. Creatures big and small get up on that rickety stage, belting out a sequence of throwback pop, R&B and hip-hop songs that will make even the most basic music fan giddy. There’s a bow-tie wearing snail singing “Ride Like the Wind,” an alligator in a bucket hat rapping with “The Humpty Dance.” It’s also where Egerton, who voices conflicted gorilla Johnny, belts out Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me.”
Buster Moon names his finalists, who all return to their mediocre lives as they fine tune their performances. My heart connected most with the overstressed pig mom Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) wanting some joie de vivre; the spunky porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson) whose loser boyfriend began dulling her rock star edge; and the painfully shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) battling massive stage fright.
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All the women find their voice (and dance skills; I see you, Rosita), performing plenty of girl power anthems along the way. (Even Jennifer Hudson’s powerhouse vocals give life to grand dame Nana Noodleman, but later I’m disappointed it's Jennifer Saunders’s voice when Nana speaks; Hudson only, well, sings).
I won’t give away the film’s big finale – but get ready to sing along and loud because this animal’s rendition of a classic jam will be an instant reminder of when belting out feel-good songs made everything better; a feeling most of us need this time of year, especially now. My family and I left the screening feeling lighter than when we entered. My daughter’s father, who’s critical of animated movies with too many adult references, turned to me smiling and exclaimed, “Now that’s a family movie!”
Indeed it is.
Bonus: As a gift from SING’s creators and studio, 200 families are invited to participate in SING Saturday, a free screening of the film on a first-come, first-serve basis on Nov. 26. (Click here for participating theaters.)