New zoo revue

Animated ’Sing’ spoofs and embraces variety TV

On the face of it, the new animated jukebox musical “Sing” springs from the lineage of TV’s reality smashes “American Idol,” as well as its initial descendants, “The Voice” and “Glee.” But the film’s true spirit animal is Kermit the Frog. Like “The Muppet Show,” the animated film proposes that vaudeville’s still not dead.

The world of “Sing,” like the world of Disney’s “Zootopia,” resembles ours -- were it populated entirely by anthropomorphic animals. The ubiquitous Matthew McConaughey plays Lester Moon, a down-on-his-luck koala bear impresario who makes one last, desperate grab at the big brass ring by planning a live singing competition. When Lester accidentally announces far more prize money than he can legitimately offer, the city’s hidden talents, and not so talented, flock to Moon’s theater.

Resembling a karaoke-of-the-stars “Glee” finale, “Sing” begins to feel like something of a pop culture echo chamber, making it tempting to dismiss. Butdirector Garth Jennings (better known for live-action films like “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) keeps an eye out for the film’s sense of humor and absurdity (Reese Witherspoon’s domestic pig must tend to 25 kids while pursuing her singing dream).

The inspiration-minded “Sing” may not amount to much -- a salute to theater and showmanship, a simple tale of self-empowerment and group spirit -- but it is up with people, or, rather, animals in ways that will delight kids and adults alike.


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