Screen Savor: Sing Out!

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Illumination Entertainment's new "Sing" boasts a star-studded cast

The star-studded cast of "Sing" by Illumination Entertainment

There is nothing new about the 3D animated feature “Sing” (Illumination Entertainment).

It’s a familiar and formulaic story lifted from any number of Hollywood or Broadway musicals. There’s a crumbling theater. There’s the theater’s owner, Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), whose lifelong love of the stage and a mission to do well by a deceased parent is the driving force behind his drive to save said crumbling theater.

Naturally, he has a bumbling assistant, the lizard Miss Crawly (voiced by co-director and writer Garth Jennings), whose carelessness leads to a potentially problematic financial situation.

Additionally, you will find a rag-tag assortment of characters who share a dream to make it big as a performer, in this case as singers auditioning for a talent competition. Among those characters is Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), an elephant with a deadly case of stage-fright. Another is Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a sow whose sizable brood and neglectful husband, deprived her of the chance to fulfill her dream. There is also a prickly (literally) teenage music snob, punk porcupine Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansen), and a lifelong troublemaker and Rat Pack-style crooning mouse Mike (Seth McFarlane). Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), the sensitive gorilla son of a criminal father, and Gunther (voiced by Nick Kroll), a pig for whom singing, dancing and hamming it up makes him squeal (literally) with joy.

And yet, in spite of not being especially engaging, and coming off as a series of separate stories that didn’t completely coalesce, “Sing” is unquestionably entertaining. It feels like a direct descendant of other colorful 2016 animated films, including “Zootopia” and “The Secret Life of Pets” (the anthropomorphized animals) and “Trolls” (the use of mostly recognizable music). It’s the kind of movie where audience members break into spontaneous applause, as if the characters on screen could actually hear them.

As you might have guessed from the title, “Sing,” there is singing, and also dancing, interwoven with the tears and trauma. Equally as essential as the music to “Sing” is the comedy. Buster’s best friend, a sheep named Eddie (voiced by John C. Reilly) often provides some of the best comic relief to be found. The scenes with Buster and Eddie’s rich and retired actress grandmother Nana (voiced by Jennifer Saunders) and the gut-busting car wash sequence, alone, are reason enough to see “Sing.”