Rated PG, 110 minutes
The colorful new animated musical "Sing" takes an old world formula - keep the show going - and infuses with a fun, contemporary "American Idol" sensibility. Peppy and predictable, there's enough energy and familiar pop tunes to keep the family engaged.
In a world populated by human-like animals, a koala showman named Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) works to keep his theater from closing down. Buster holds a singing contest to raise money, and the entire town auditions for a part in the show, though there are challenges along the way to keep the show going. The top contestants include an overworked pig named Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) with her pig partner named Gunter (Nick Kroll), an arrogant and gambling white mouse named Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a punk-rock porcupine named Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a timid teenage elephant named Meena (Tori Kelly), and a British mobster gorilla named Johnny (Eddie the Eagle's" Taron Egerton).
Directed and written by Garth Jennings ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"), who also memorably voices Buster's elderly iguana assistant Matilda, the enjoyable, fun "Sing" is nothing new, but manages to keep you watching and amused throughout. Unsurprisingly, the lively musical numbers easily become the film's biggest highlight, with a large pop collection ranging from Katy Perry and Taylor Swift to The Bee Gees and Elton John.
In between all the songs is a lackluster and threadbare behind-the-scenes-the-show-must-go-on plot that is as old as when Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland did it with "Babes in Arms" 80 years ago. McConaughey is inspired casting as the charming, smooth-talking koala bent on putting on the show; Witherspoon has some delightful moments, as does Johansson, Kroll and Kelly. Stealing many scenes is "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane as a street-wise, Sinatra-singing mouse (who definitely does his way) and young Egerton, who has some genuinely soulful moments, including one singing Sam Smith's "Stay With Me."
Pleasantly peppy and energetic, the colorful "Sing" is best when it stays on stage and sings it heart out, and it has enough that would even please the hardest of hearts - Simon Cowell take note. You've seen it all before, but you'll still stay until the end, and enjoy yourself all the while.