“From Illumination, the studio that brought you The Secret Life of Pets and the Despicable Me franchise, comes an animated comedy about finding the music that lives inside all of us. SING stars Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, an eternally optimistic koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition to save his crumbling theater; Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, an overworked and underappreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva; Scarlett Johansson as Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior; Taron Egerton as Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies; as well as Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, and Grammy Award-nominated Tori Kelly. SING is the musical comedy event of the year!” – Official Illumination Synopsis
SING was written and directed by Garth Jennings. It runs 108 minutes, which feels like just the right amount of time. Unlike a lot of family-friendly movies, SING isn’t overly packed with humor. Sure, there are certainly some funny moments and humorous plot twists, but the laughs aren’t the main goal here. Instead, SING is a story about self-discovery and trying to reach your dreams.
These character-driven journeys are made during a singing contest produced and presented by Buster Moon (McConaughey). Buster has yet to produce a single successful show and is clearly facing financial trouble and daily calls from the bank. He believes a singing contest will garner enough attention and attendance to save him from losing his theater. When Miss Crawley (voiced by director Jennings), Buster’s accident-prone secretary, misprints the amount of prize money on the contest’s flyers, people from all over the city arrive at the theater’s doors to audition.
Viewers meet several characters before the auditions begin and can likely guess who will make it past the first round of auditions. Still, the audition scene is fun! The song choices are intelligent, with some songs logically connecting to the animals singing them and some choices that seem hilariously opposite of expectations.
A standout character met in these auditions is Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), a charismatic European pig. If you saw only one preview or even just a single poster for this movie, you have undoubtedly seen Gunter. The entire marketing campaign for this movie seemed to be based around his character. Despite his prominence in the marketing materials, Gunter is given very little screen time in comparison to other characters and isn’t central to the plot. At most, he is a secondary character in Rosita’s story, which is actually a bit of a shame. Gunter is optimistic, friendly, and encouraging to his fellow contestants and often provides the perfect amount of levity in serious or emotional scenes. While he is featured frequently in the bonus materials, the movie itself could have used more of his self-proclaimed “Piggy Power.” Here’s to hoping that Gunter is more prominent in SING 2, planned for Christmas of 2020!
Regardless of his screen time, Gunter is just one example of the movie excelling at presenting likeable, compelling characters that audiences want to see succeed. Choosing a favorite is likely difficult. The movie presents a diverse array of characters who are all relatable in one way or another. Rosita is an underappreciated mom who just wants to have something for herself. Johnny always feels like he can’t live up to his father’s expectations. Meena is too shy and timid to reach for her dreams. Even Buster, the lead character, is just struggling to make ends meet. Throughout the course of the movie, audiences get to see these characters work together and often build each other up with encouragement. We see them grow and develop, even during setbacks and challenges. SING continuously excels at character depth and development throughout the story.
The movie’s other key strength is its incorporation of over sixty songs, including a nice mixture of covers and songs written exclusively for the movie. Scarlett Johansson’s character sings a pop-rock tune called “Set It All Free,” and the duet “Faith” by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande is played through the credits. Lyric videos for both songs can be found in the movie’s bonus features.
Though it may seem like a tune audiences feel they have heard before and a life lesson that is almost seen as cliché at this point, SING is an exceptional movie and a beautifully told story. The characters are likeable and relatable, the songs are catchy, and the plot moves at the perfect pace to keep audiences engaged and attentive. SING may be Illumination’s best movie to date!
Audio – When your movie is called SING – your audio needs to be excellent, which it is. Both the 4K Ultra HD and the Blu-ray use a Dolby Atmos soundtrack that sounds fantastic. Audio options include English Atmos Dolby True HD, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and French Dolby Digital 5.1 for the 4K version. The Blu-ray features the same choices with the additional option of Dolby Digital 2.0 DVS2. Both versions also offer subtitles in English/English SDH, Spanish, and French.
The audio and soundtrack work wonderfully for this film. Despite the prominence of music, dialogue is still given priority and is always understandable. External sound effects are also clearly heard, but never to a point of distraction. Each song is clear, which makes singing along quite easy and enjoyable.
Visual – The movie looks excellent and has an Illumination-style quality, but there are no Minions singing in this one. Both the 4K Ultra HD and the Blu-ray have a widescreen, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, so there will be black bars across the top and bottom of the screen. The 4K edition also comes with HDR, or High Dynamic Range, that will enhance the colors seen in the movie and is sure to make each sparkle on Gunter’s tracksuits and unitards stand out! For the full 4K experience, you will need a 4K Ultra HD TV with HDR capability, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and a high-speed HDMI (category 2) cable. Viewers seeing only the Blu-ray edition, though, should still be impressed with the visual quality of the movie.
Each character is uniquely created and features a distinct look. The only exceptions to this are intentional, such as Rosita’s 25 piglets all looking extremely similar. Details on each character are also sharp and clear. For example, each quill on Ash, the porcupine, has fine detail that is visible.
Menu – The main menu for this movie looks and sounds wonderful! Viewers see clips of the contest’s flyers spreading across town paired with a few of the characters’ contest performances. These are played silently under Johansson’s “Set It All Free.” Unlike many menus, the options descend on the left side of the screen. Viewers can hit ‘Play’ to watch the full film, or they can go directly to specific scenes by selecting ‘Chapters.’ ‘Setup’ allows viewers to play the movie in different languages, add or remove subtitles, and include “button sounds.” Selecting button sounds will add a sound effect each time you move your remote over a different option. ‘Bonus’ and ‘Mini-Movies’ will be discussed next.
• “Gunter Babysits” (3:47) – Dressed in his bright gold tracksuit, “Uncle Gunter” comes over to babysit Rosita’s 25 piglets in what is easily the funniest of the mini-movies! Gunter’s personality connects perfectly with the piglets, leading to some very humorous antics.
• “Love at First Sight” (4:18) – After noticing that Miss Crawley is lonely, Johnny encourages her to try online dating. Like the full-length movie, most of the humor in this mini-movie is up front, and it has a sweet, touching ending.
• “Eddie’s Life Coach” (4:16) – When Eddie’s mother forces him to take life-lessons from Garry “The Winner” Wishmann, Eddie begins to make changes in his life; however, he quickly learns that there is more to Wishmann’s lessons than he originally thought.
• The Making of the Mini-Movies (5:56) – Hear from the directors and creators behind each of the three mini-movies as they discuss creative inspirations and the challenges of working from different continents. Be sure to watch the mini-movies first, as this feature does give away all three of the endings.
• The Making of SING (4:40) – Writer/Director Garth Jennings and several crew members discuss working for Illumination and taking the movie’s concept from storyboard to complete feature film.
• Finding the Rhythm: Editing SING (2:44) – Editor Gregory Perler talks about editing to match the pace of each scene in the movie.
• Character Profiles – Hear from the voice actors as they discuss finding their character’s voices, motivations, and goals.
1. Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon (2:06)
2. Reese Witherspoon as Rosita (2:28)
3. Tori Kelly as Meena (1:39)
4. Taron Egerton as Johnny (2:17)
5. Nick Kroll as Gunter (1:46)
6. Garth Jennings as Miss Crawley (2:27)
• “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” Music Video (3:11) – This live-action music video sees Tori Kelly singing her Stevie Wonder cover in an empty studio with art from the movie digitally added around her.
• Making a Music Video with Tori Kelly (2:52) – Tori Kelly takes viewers behind the scenes while shooting her “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” music video.
• “Faith” Music Video (2:46) –Stevie Wonder plays piano, and Ariana Grande walks down a sidewalk with art from the movie being “graffitied” on the wall beside her. The two eventually meet and perform the final choruses of the song together.
• “Faith” Lyric Video (2:49) – The song lyrics are seen surrounded the color-changing squid during the verses. In the choruses, lyrics appear over clips from the movie.
• “Set It All Free” Lyric Video (3:40) – Lyrics to the song play over clips of the movie.
• SING & Dance! “Faith” (6:31) – Choreographer Aakomon Jones breaks down a dance routine for “Faith” by walking through each individual step and then tying it all together.
• The SING Network – See a variety of advertisements and hear the latest on some of your favorite characters.
1. Gunter’s Dance Studio (1:22)
2. The Moon Theater (0:43)
3. Rosita’s Babysitting Gizmo (1:03)
4. Miss Crawley’s Matchmaking Service (0:55)
5. In the News (9:09) – “SING’s! True Entertaining Stories” gives an update on Buster, Gunter, Rosita, Johnny, Meena, Ash, and Mike.
• The Best of Gunter (1:03) – See some of Gunter’s best moments from the film.
Takeaway – SING is an exceptional movie and a beautifully told story. The characters are likeable and relatable, the songs are catchy, and the plot moves at the perfect pace to keep audiences engaged and attentive. This release also includes three fantastic mini-movies and a variety of fun bonus features. SING may be Illumination’s best movie to date!