Sing Parent Review
This singing competition offers some good messages, some examples of bad behavior, and a lot of snappy tunes.
Television has been raking in a fortune producing talent shows, like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. Hollywood has made a genre out of aspiring stars and starlets seeking their big break. (See La La Land, Dream Girls, Fame, and That Thing You Do.) So, it is little wonder a film about a pile of wannabes entering a singing contest sounds like a good bet for making dollars at the box office.
If you are interested in this movie because you love music and/or great computer animation, then you may have come to the right place. But if it’s the cast of animal characters that has you thinking this may be a fun distraction for your little ones, you could be disappointed.
Sing tells the tale of a koala bear named Buster Moon (voice of Matthew McConaughey) who owns a theater that has seen better days. It has been a long time since the establishment has had a hit show, however Buster is convinced his competition idea will change all that. In between avoiding calls from the bank and patching up the leaky ceiling, the ever-optimistic manager is busy schmoozing potential sponsors. Although he is unable to convince anyone to buy into his idea, the advertising poster for the event, which features a typo exaggerating the prize money, attracts a huge response from the public.
It is the backstories of the hopefuls that will have parents wondering what age demographic the screenwriters had in mind. Rosita (voice of Reese Witherspoon) is a mom that put her dreams aside to cook and clean for a preoccupied husband (voice of Nick Offerman) and 25 piglets. Mike, a mouse (voice of Seth MacFarlane), busks Frank Sinatra tunes while hustling at the gambling table and antagonizing some vengeful bears. Ash (voice of Scarlett Johansson) is a punky teenaged porcupine who appears to share an apartment with her demeaning boyfriend. Meena’s (Tori Kelly) voice is as large as an elephant’s, if only she wasn’t too shy to perform in front of an audience. And Johnny (voice of Taron Egerton) has a velvety voice but he’s pressured to join his father’s gorilla gang of thieves who are planning the biggest heist of their careers.
Except for the timid pachyderm, the rest of these characters (under-appreciated housewives, con-artists, angsty adolescents and crime families) are hardly characters that kids will relate to. Nor would you want your youngsters emulating their behaviors of robbery, reckless driving, cheating, lying, and committing minor misdemeanors. Even though these frequent violent depictions are usually non-graphic and often slapstick, some of the murderous intentions and perilous situations are frightening. Other issues include skimpy clothing, mild profanity, alcohol served at a club and, oddly, a lizard (voiced by Garth Jennings) with a glass eye that periodically pops out.
Older teens and adults may be willing overlook the bad examples and focus on the vocal talents displayed here. These come in abundance, and feature famous tunes from various decades, many of which are performed by the cast of this film. The score also offers an original track: Faith by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande.
In the end, the contestants in Buster’s show develop positive attributes from their efforts with an emphasis on the importance of self-esteem, persistence and even hard work in achieving one’s goals. The script also throws challenges at them, motivating these songsters to pack up their egos and selfish desires in favor of helping each other succeed and work toward a greater cause. These messages are commendable – just a little lost amidst a curious clutter of content concerns and snappy tunes.Directed by Garth Jennings. Starring Matthew McConaughey, John C. Reilly, Jon Robert Hall, Scarlett Johansson. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release December 21, 2016. Updated January 13, 2017
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Sing here.
Sing Parents Guide
What motivates the various characters to enter the sing competition? What do they hope to gain from it? How important is winning for some of them? How do each of them see the contest as a new beginning? Do you think an event like this one really could fix a person’s problems?
How does Rosita, the mother pig, solve her childcare and housekeeping problems? If you had the skills to invent this kind of help, why wouldn’t you market it instead of trying to win a singing contest? If you needed money, what would be more practical ways of getting cash?
Many of the contestants in Buster’s contest are dealing with self-esteem issues and they discover that working toward a goal helps them feel better about themselves. What talents could you develop or discover? Would this help you feel better about who you are? Do we sometimes demean ourselves in an effort to seek attention or allow others to shine in our place? Why is this not a good thing to do? How can we balance confidence with pride and egotism?
Buster refuses to answer calls from his lending manager at the bank because he can’t make the payments. He also has a good connection with a wealthy individual. How might Buster have communicated more effectively with these two people? Obviously there needs to be a conflict within the story of this movie, but if this was a real situation (and Buster wasn’t a koala…) how might he have managed the situation more productively and perhaps have resolved his problems much sooner?