After conquering the box office with yellow minions and pets with secret lives, Illumination Entertainment returns with its sweetest and most charming project yet. Matthew McConaughey breaks out the bubbly charm as Buster Moon, an idealistic koala who launches a singing contest to save his failing theater. With the promise of both cash (which Buster doesn’t actually have) and stardom, the competition attracts hopeful singers of every species: Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) voices a soulful gorilla who prefers the stage to his father’s bank-robbing ring; Reese Witherspoon is an overworked pig mother of 25 who dreams of the spotlight; and Scarlett Johansson plays a teenage porcupine desperate to break out of her musician boyfriend’s shadow. Add a sequin-obsessed swine (Nick Kroll), a suave but narcissistic mouse (Seth MacFarlane), and an angel-voiced elephant paralyzed by stage fright (Tori Kelly), and you’ve got a delightful menagerie of misfit musicians.
It’s hard not to compare Sing to another 2016 animated flick about animals learning life lessons in a multispecies metropolis, and the creatures of Sing never seem as introspective or innovative as their Disney cousins in Zootopia. But although the let’s-put-on-a-show story line feels familiar, there’s real heart to the critters’ desperate pursuit of their dreams. The eye-popping performances are meticulously animated, and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack helps keep this show on the road. Sing may be a melody we’ve heard before, but it still sounds sweet. B+