It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Is it wrong to swoon over a soulful-eyed animated Cockney ape named Johnny who is built like Dwayne Johnson and croons like a boy-band angel? If it is, I don’t want to be right. His silky and all-too-brief version of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” gave me shivers.
Not that my fondness for this leather-jacketed gorilla of my dreams (voiced by Brit actor Taron Egerton of ”Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Eddie the Eagle”)—just one of several standouts among the warbling menagerie that populates ”Sing”—has totally blinded me from acknowledging that this jukebox musical barely has an original anthropomorphic bone in its fur-bearing body.
Don’t go into “Sing” expecting it to be some kind of cartoon answer to “La La Land” with animal wise-crackers stepping in for snappy human toe tappers, despite its similar heartfelt portrayal of the highs and lows of showbiz and sunny candy-hued cityscape. But, luckily, its makers know all too well how to fully exploit the power of a catchy pop song. There are more than 65 dynamite ditties—from the Beatles and Irving Berlin to Beyonce and Carly Rae Jepsen—exploited to their full crowd-pleasing potential as the choices smartly span the decades.
On the surface, this story of koala bear impresario Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey, nicely capturing this pint-size showman who is part huckster, part dreamer and part the actor’s exuberant strip-club emcee from “Magic Mike”) who decides to give his run-down theater a boost by staging a talent contest is simply plugging into the ongoing popularity of reality shows such as “American Idol” and “The Voice.”