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Sing

When it comes to modern cinemagoing, feature animation is now part of the furniture, with studios like Pixar in particular finding huge audiences with their emotional, cross-generational crowd pleasers. Other production houses are attempting to surf this wave with alternative, even parodic versions of family-oriented movies. In the midst of this meta mess is a film whose modesty belies how clever and engaging it is. Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet’s Sing is that film, and it arrives as a breath of fresh air. The title itself is extremely straightforward but points directly at the beautiful simplicity of the film’s central conceit: if singing makes you feel like a million bucks, then sing goddam it. No one is more aware of that ad hoc mantra than Buster Moon (voiced by an uncharacteristically cheerful Matthew McConaughey), a theatre director who, despite economic difficulties, never gives up his love of show business. His optimism first manifests as a simple kiddie movie trope, yet the story progressively imbues it with a sense of gravitas and meaning which paints a realistic and hopeful portrait of entertainers and the energy that drives them. Moon’s challenge sees him contending with the fact that every other character has to face the dilemma: commit to artistic dreams or continue with your complicated life? More personal issues are explored through the animals taking part in Moon’s singing competition. Each is realised with great detail and a surprising level of realism. From the pressures of housewifery to the challenges of father-son relationships, in under two hours, Jennings explores the spectrum of human experience with a startling, unapologetic refusal to round off the edges. Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) struggles with her 25 piglets but the film doesn’t take the easy route of blaming her husband for not helping her in the house. The not-quite epic yet exciting adventure progresses according to the basic, pragmatic idea that every character ...