From the creators of Despicable Me, Sing doesn't reinvent the family animation, offer an original premise or even tight storytelling, but it does deliver hugely likeable characters and a rousing finale.
An entrepreneurial, optimistic koala is at the heart of the story, controversially voiced by an American - Matthew McConaughey.
Buster Moon fell in love with the theatre at age six, and encouraged and supported by his father, opened Moon Theatre. But after years of unsuccessful shows, cheques are now bouncing and the bank is knocking on Moon's door.
In a final attempt to save the theatre, Buster Moon comes up with the idea of holding a singing competition to find "real talent from real life". Yes, it's like American Idol comes to Zootopia.
Unfortunately, Moon's elderly and loyal assistant, the one-eyed lizard Miss Crawl (voiced by director Garth Jennings), accidentally adds a couple of zeroes to the prize money, and half the city auditions to win the $100,000 prize money Buster doesn't have.
The auditions are hilarious. We know how important song choice is in these competitions, and they've been cleverly matched to a wide range of “wannabe” animals.
With the help of the finalists and a wealthy slacker friend, Buster beats the odds and pulls a show together.
Reece Witherspoon's voice seems almost unrecognisable as an overworked and under-supported mother of 25 piglets, while Scarlett Johansson is more recognisable as an alt rocker trying to be taken seriously in a world of image-driven pop.
Tori Kelly is a shy elephant who must overcome her stage fright, and Taron Egerton is a likeable gorilla trying to find a balance between being in his father's criminal gang and following his dream of becoming a singer.
The only character with a sharp edge is Seth MacFarlane's Mike, a con-mouse who boxes above his weight and becomes entangled with Russian bear mobsters: sometimes the characterisations border on the stereotypical.
Music often plays a big role in ’toon films, and it is especially important this time - the playlist is varied and uplifting, with everyone getting their moment to shine.
While Sing doesn't have the depth of other recent animations, at this time of year, not having to think too hard can be a blessing.
- TimeOut (New Zealand Herald)