It’s been so long since singing competitions took over television, that it isn’t surprising that many have become jaded about their existence. This is undoubtedly part of the reason for American Idol‘s demise, something that only a few years ago seemed all but impossible. While other singing competitions are doing their best to pick up the ratings, and spin things in a slightly different way, the theory itself may have reached a point where it becomes too difficult to watch for too many.

The last two seasons of American Idol featured less and less talent, and more and more praise from judges, who were eager to convince audiences that every next set of singers were the best the show had ever seen simply by repeating the statement.

This all makes you wonder if this is the worst possible time for an animated showcase of a singing competition with cutesy animals… or the best possible time.

Coming this holiday season, Sing, a film which could use a better name, frankly, is something of an effort to take us all back to the earliest days of this idea, when we were all able to revel in the magic of letting anyone who walked in off the street have a shot at becoming a star.

The film, brought to you by Illumination (Despicable Me), is a pretty daring gamble in a lot of ways, and one that is going to be marketed like crazy as we approach the end of the year. Any animated film that can’t say Disney at you is a gamble when you don’t already know the characters, but this one, filled with stars to pay, is written and directed by Garth Jennings, and you aren’t likely to know him or his work.

He really only has The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Son of Rambow under his belt, and there’s nothing about the fact that makes you want to give him a lot of money to make an animated film about singing apes.

This is a trailer that looks pretty fun though. Taking people back to when they hadn’t hardened their hearts against the general idea may be just the sort of thing that could take off in a big way.

Take a look, and let us know what you think.


Sing Trailer

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Sing poster

Illumination has captivated audiences all over the world with the beloved hits Despicable Me, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Despicable Me 2 and Minions, now the second-highest-grossing animated movie in history. Following the release of The Secret Life of Pets in summer 2016, Illumination presents Sing at the holidays. Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly star in a musical comedy about finding the shining star that lives inside all of us.

Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (Academy Award® winner Matthew McConaughey), a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal optimist—okay, maybe a bit of a scoundrel—who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

Five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life.

Featuring more than 85 hit songs, Sing is written and directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and produced by Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy. Released by Universal Pictures, Sing arrives in theaters for the holiday season on December 21, 2016.


Marc Eastman is the owner and operator of Are You Screening? and has been writing film reviews for over a decade, and several branches of the internet's film review world have seen his name. He is also a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Broadcast Television Journalists Association.