Saturday, January 7, 2017

Theatrical Review: Sing

Date: Saturday, January 7 2017
Time: 2:00pm
Party: 3 (my mom and sister)

Directors: Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet
Writer: Garth Jennings (directed "Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy")

Buster Moon- Matthew McConaughey
Eddie- John C Reilly
Mike- Seth MacFarlane
Rosita- Reese Witherspoon
Gunter- Nick Kroll
Norman- Nick Offerman
Ash- Scarlett Johansson

Lance- Beck Bennett
Johnny- Taron Egerton
Nana Noodleman- Jennifer Saunders
Miss Crawley- Garth Jennings (also did the voice of Bean's Son in "Fantastic Mr. Fox")

Meena- Tori Kelly
Meena's grandfather- Jay Pharaoh
Meena's mom- Leslie Jones
Judith the banker- Rhea Perlman

Duration: 108 minutes (+3 trailers and a number of commercials per the usual)

Opening Comments:

First movie of the year! I was hoping to catch it at the end of last year, but we went away the last week and I didn't have a time otherwise to go.
The theater had a decent amount of people, most between the age of 7 and 10. Not bad for a movie that came up two weeks ago... was it really Christmas two weeks ago tomorrow?

Front & Center:

This is the segment they sometimes show before movies for those who get to the theater early. They show behind-the-scenes of some upcoming movies.
The second of the two got its own full length trailer later on.
But the first- I have to address.

Apparently, they are releasing a new Yu-Gi-Oh! movie in theaters in 10 days. Where Yugi looks like he'll be tested once again with a new villain and considering the end of the animated series, he might not have the assistance of the Pharaoh from the Millennium puzzle this time. And of course Seto Kaiba returns to find away to regain his dignity... he never quite got it back after the first time Yugi beat him with Exodia (short version: it's a 5 card combination that gives the player who uses it an automatic win).

Anyway... why I'm bringing extra special attention to this... aside from just another chance to have a great time with one of my favorite animé series... they introduced it by showing the voice actors. For the first time, I saw Dan Green (who also did Mewtwo in "Mewtwo Returns" and Entei in "Pokémon: Spell of the Unown) and Eric Stuart (who also did Brock and James in Pokémon). I had a full-on fangasm (or nerdgasm... I think the terms might be interchangeable) seeing these guys in the flesh and that high rose with all the effects, seeing the characters again and how much they talk about how they love their characters.
This is why I love English dub voice actors- they really love their job. Every now and then, Veronica Taylor will tweet or answer someone's tweet about how much she'd love to play Ash again. If only the Pokémon casting people would listen...

I'm sorry :P I'll tack on a "nerd alert" at the top of this...although it was kinda funny to hear my mom's reaction to my sister and mine's reaction to this news... if we can't see in theaters (where it's sure to be amazing), we'll get it on DVD as soon as it comes out.

Okay, now for the actual trailers...


The first (that I waited to talk about) was for "A Dog's Purpose." The behind the scenes special had the actors from the movie talking about the dogs they owned in the movie as well as their own dogs in real life.
I mean, any movie with a beloved pet has the potential to be a tearjerker. "Marley & Me"... forget it... but there's a bit of safety net here because the movie is about a dog and how it lives many different lives in different forms and with different people. He starts out as a retriever and later becomes a German Shepard, Corgi, etc. Josh Gad (Olaf from "Frozen" does his voice) and Dennis Quaid plays the grown-up version of the dog's first owner, Ethan.

I think it's based on a James Patterson book [nope, author's name is W Bruce Cameron] and it looks like a good movie. And I'm sure my dog will love it when it premieres on HBO (he runs up to the TV and whines/barks when he sees another dog on screen).

Second... Boss Baby... we saw the posters for it at this theater and seeing it in full... it just looks so stupid. Animated movie about a kid's new baby brother who happens to be a secret agent or something... I don't know... I don't really care. Alec Baldwin is the baby. Even if Bruce Willis did his voice, there's no saving this movie.

Third... it has been such a long time since I had this much fun during a movie trailer. Fun from start to finish. "Despicable Me 3" shows Gru and Lucy up against a new villain who has retro fashion sense and killer taste in music.
When he goes off to pull a job, "Bad" by Michael Jackson starts to play. I'm dancing in my seat, having a good time. And he does this heist on a ship encasing all the shipmates in giant balls of bubble game. Gru gets on the ship and the music temporarily changes to "Sussudio" when they get into an altercation.
Such hilarity happens in this trailer... I can't even remember when the darn thing is supposed to be released... but I'm super excited for it already.

2017 is already full of so many great possibilities. Now onto the actual movie...

The Actual Movie

yeah... I couldn't resist keeping that theme again...

Buster Moon is a koala who owns a theater and it's in financial trouble. It used to be known for these great stage shows and dramas. But he gets the idea to hold a singing competition to save it. It was handed down to him by his father and he loves it more than anything. You'd think going in that he'd be in this just for himself and he has a lot of silly suggestions for some of the contenders, but he offers them a lot of support, which is nice to see.
Hard to believe McConaughey is doing this when he has an Oscar that made him so expensive that the "Magic Mike" sequel couldn't afford him. But he must have really wanted to do this movie.

The singing competition meanwhile gives opportunity to a great cast of characters we get to know throughout the movie. They're all dissatisfied with things going on in their lives and this is their way of changing that.

Because Reese Witherspoon gets 2nd billing, it's hard not to talk about Rosita first. She's a pig with a husband and 25 kids. She is run-down and feels underappreciated. In the competition, she was assigned a partner because she wasn't deemed strong enough by herself. When she can't find a babysitter or get her husband to help her out (he's busy working a job he doesn't really like), she puts together this crazy contraption that gets everyone up and fed and laundry done and put to bed. Just... no way... but somehow, it works.
Gunter... throughout the trailers, I thought he was her husband and that she was unhappy about being overshadowed by him, that he thinks he's more important than her. But Gunter really just a flamboyant pig that looks more like he'd be better for a dancing competition. He's got a lot of Spanish flair with somewhat of a delusional ego to match. Over time, though, he got a little less annoying and he really did care about Rosita as much as them putting on a good show together.

Ash is a porcupine who auditioned with her boyfriend Lance. They're kinda of a grunge rock band who were having trouble breaking through. Ash is the only one who gets through in the audition and it puts a damper on their relationship. Buster Moon wants her to do cheesy pop songs like "Call Me Maybe," but after she gets out on her own, she puts together a really good original song called "Set It Free." I think it's even nominated for a Golden Globe. [nope, that was "Faith"- the song played at the end of the movie].
"Set it Free" was still pretty awesome.
Scarlet Johansson totally rocks it.

From the audition trailers, you get familiar with a lot of the characters. But most of them didn't make the final cut. Only maybe 5 of them.
One of the ones that got the most buzz was Meena the elephant played Tori Kelly. She's gotten a bit of notoriety over the past couple years. After she was dismissed from American Idol season 9 in Hollywood week, several years later, she finally somehow got together with the right studio and press team and her career exploded in the best way.
And of course people like Lyndsey Parker will roll their eyes whenever "American Idol" tries to claim ownership for her YEARS after she was dismissed before she could make the top 10.

It was so long ago, I didn't remember her at all. But I often don't with those who don't make the top 10. Plus Season 9 was mostly forgettable.

Meena's deal is that she has a huge voice, but she's too shy to get up on use it. She fumbles her audition, winds up working as a stagehand for Buster Moon and gets a spot when a couple acts get quit or get injured.

Don't know why I remember this, but one team that quit was three frogs. Buster Moon walks past them into the theater as they're leaving and one says how they called him "an intolerable egomaniac" and stops away moaning "I don't even know what that means!"

To quote Yoda: "and that is why you fail..."

For a while, there was also a running gag with these five little Chinese pandas who do this cutesy K-Pop act and can't get the hint that they didn't move on to the next round. And of course when he tries to translate what he wants to see with a book, he says the wrong thing.
I kinda saw that coming after what happened with Gru in the first "Despicable Me,' although it took awhile for his mistranslation to be found out.

Of the group, one I liked the least was Mike, this mouse who we first see on the street playing a saxophone and hustling a guy when he gives him a penny for a tip. He's good with the Frank Sinatra type stuff he does, but he is just mean to a lot of the other characters. Now he was an egomaniac. Finding out he was Seth MacFarland's character in this... I should have guessed... he doesn't even have to try to be unlikeable sometimes. He also impacts the plot in multiple ways, but also gets some karma coming back at him to balance the scales of justice a bit.

I like a lot of the characters, so I can't just say that Johnny the gorilla is my favorite. He's just one of them. Everyone but Mike is pretty darn likeable.
Johnny's family likes to pull robberies and heists and he wants more than that. In one job, he's their getaway driver, but considering he's up against rehearsal... you can kinda see where this is going.
But it's great that he earns his dad's respect back when he sees him perform.
In the trailers, I thought for sure Ed Sheeran was doing his voice because he had a British accent. But he didn't... which kinda sucks... I mean, the movie is called "Sing" and they played the Ed Sheeran song in their trailers... he should've been in the cast or they should've at least played his song somewhere in it.

A couple of scene-stealers: Miss Crawly, Buster Moon's chameleon assistant with a glass eye she keeps losing. Hard to believe the writer/director of this, a dude, did her voice (although Brad Bird did do a female character in "The Incredibles" so it's not too outside the box). She has a bit of dry sense of humor that's a little left of center, but she was great.
And Nana Noodleman- she was an old star of the theater. Who happens to be the grandmother of Buster Moon's friend Eddie. He spends part of the movie trying to convince her to help finance the future of the theater. Jennifer Hudson did her voice in the beginning where we see her singing.

I've seen a lot of serious and dramatic movies lately, so I thought this would be a nice change of pace. There were moments in the beginning with the writing came off as cheesy without a lot of thought really put into it. But they more than made up for it as the movie progressed. It follows that typical pattern movies follow where they introduce characters and their quirks and struggles. Something big and dramatic happens halfway through that almost derails the whole thing, but we get a happy ending after all.

The final half hour where everyone performs... it isn't just the best part worth sitting through the movie for. But seeing everyone come together and supporting each other and stuff... and of course the power of music in general. I was super stoked and loving every minute of it. I actually was thinking about seeing it the next time and spending more time with these characters. If you're not invested from the beginning, at least one of them will grow on you over time. I have no doubt of that.

The trailer did it justice where you know what to expect going on in. But as it progresses, you get a lot more than you expect. And that's pretty cool.

Grade: A

No comments: