A version of this review ran Wednesday, when the movie opened.
Illumination Entertainment, the team behind Minions, branches out into the world of dancing, singing creatures, mashing that up with the wildly popular phenomenon of singing-competition reality shows. The result is Sing, an amusing riff on genres - a Zootopia Idol, if you will.
The film takes cues from shows like American Idol, The Voice, and X Factor, with an all-too-brief audition montage jam-packed with wonderful moments.
A water buffalo crooning Crazy Town's "Butterfly"? Twerking bunnies? There's all that and more.
But Sing is also an old-school backstage musical that celebrates the magic of putting on a show.
Matthew McConaughey voices theater owner Buster Moon, a koala with a passion for the art of the stage and some seriously overdue bills on the mortgage for his beloved Moon Theater. He's a scrappy, lovable, ever-optimistic guy - and eternal salesman - who believes that when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up.
His buddy Eddie (John C. Reilly), a slacker rich-kid llama, is a soft touch. But even he is done investing his parents' money in Buster's misguided productions.
Buster hits on the idea of putting on a singing competition, and, soon, fliers are picked up by every aspiring vocalist in town, lured by the promise of a $100,000 prize (that Buster doesn't have).
But Buster is thrilled by the crop of talent he turns up, including mother of 25 piglets Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), who belts Katy Perry with the best; mouthy mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane), styled straight out of the Rat Pack; porcupine rocker chick Ash (Scarlett Johansson); British gorilla crooner Johnny (Taron Egerton); and German techno-rave pig Gunter (Nick Kroll).
Each singer has a personal story and obstacles to overcome, so the plot feels overly busy - frantic, even - as we zip all over town, checking in on Rosita's struggle to balance raising her kids and following her dreams, Ash's relationship problems, Johnny's desire to break free of his father's robbery gang, etc., etc., on and on.
It's a lot to take in.
As the competition starts to crumble, bearing the pressure of too many dreams and not enough resources, the singers start to realize it's not about the prize money, but about their tight-knit group's getting together to show off their talents for whomever will watch, wherever they can.
They learn that the most important lesson is to share their gifts and find their voices.
The sound track includes well-known crowd-pleasers, deep cuts, and a catchy original song, the pop-rock number "Set It All Free," sung by Johansson as Ash.
The combination of pop music and cuddly animals will prove an addictive combination for children and adults alike - when I saw it, kids were up and dancing in the theater as the credits rolled. It's a cute movie with genuinely funny moments (keep an eye out for the koala car wash), and some great tunes, to boot.
**1/2 (Out of four stars)
Directed by Garth Jennings. With Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Nick Kroll, Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly. Distributed by
Running time: 1 hour, 48 mins.
Parent's guide: PG (some rude humor and mild peril).
Playing at: Area theaters.