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Animated 'Sing' believes more is more, when less would have been better
In "Sing," a koala named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) works to keep his theater from closing down. His assistant is Matilda Crawley (Garth Jennings), an elderly green iguana. - photo by Josh Terry
SING 2 stars Voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton; PG (some rude humor and mild peril); in general release

The creators of Sing believe that more is more. If one animated animal singing a familiar pop song is funny, then a dozen animals singing a dozen different pop songs must be hilarious. Thats how we get covers of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, the Pointer Sisters, Seal, the Beatles, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Carly Rae Jepsen and many more packed into the same 108-minute film.

Sing is essentially the animated equivalent of American Idol, and that may be the best indicator to determine whether or not you will enjoy this film. The plot centers around a koala bear named Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey. Buster owns a theater that is in financial trouble, but he has an idea: stage a local singing competition to raise money to save the theater. When he bounces the idea off his best friend, a sheep named Eddie (John C. Reilly), Eddie asks, Who wants to see another one of those?

Its unclear whether the filmmakers behind Sing understand the irony of that question.

Buster doesnt let Eddie discourage him and soldiers on with his plan. Hopefuls line up in droves, and we get the requisite audition sequence. Finalists are chosen for the actual public performance/competition, including a gorilla named Johnny (Taron Egerton), a domestic pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and an arrogant mouse named Mike (Seth MacFarlane). Theres also an elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly) who is too shy to try out, so she joins the stage crew.

Each member of the group has their own subplot. Johnny is trying to escape his fathers gang of bank robbers. Rosita is trying to escape her ho-hum life as homemaker to a couple dozen piglets and an oblivious husband. Ash wants to escape her domineering band mate/boyfriend and rock out to her own original music. Meena just wants to escape her shyness and experience the joy of live performance.

All that more is more philosophy subjects Sing to the curse of the ensemble cast. When you juggle lots of storylines, you have to resolve lots of storylines, and in this case, that means everyone has to have their time in the spotlight when, after the requisite twists and turns of the plot, the group finally takes the stage at the end of the movie.

Sing has its charms, but it also tends to remind you of other movies that did what Sing wants to do better. If you want to spend time in an animated world populated by talking animals, go with Zootopia. If you want to watch a movie that celebrates the joy of making and performing music, John Carneys Sing Street is one of the unsung gems of 2016.

None of this is to say the movie is bad. Little kids will laugh, and some big kids will, too. There is a fantastic sequence where, in a desperate move to make money, Buster sells himself out to a local car wash. But where the best animated features blend story, craft and wit in a way that appeals to the parents and the kids, Sing lags a step or two behind.

Sing is rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril; running time: 108 minutes.