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Sing: with a pinch of American Idol

I’ll put the spectacular flooding of the theater up against anything found in The Shape of Water

Sing! When the toys fly off the shelves!
Sing! When the toys fly off the shelves!

The most challenging component of being my stickling, anal-retentive moviegoing self has been this dumbfounding devotion to logic and historical continuity that rides roughshod inside my skull. The trailer to Sing spoke to me, saying, “You are free to devote two hours of your life to the service of another feature.” Happy years passed without Sing getting stuck inside my head. But all bets were off when a sequel crossed my desk during a week that came up one film shy of the quota. Surely this would be one #2 easy enough to pass without benefit of the original — hardly the same sacrilege as viewing Bergman’s “Death of God” trilogy in reverse order — but damn if this inquiring mind didn’t voluntarily serve two hours of hard labor with the original before passing judgement on Sing 2, or as I like to call it, 100 Minutes in Sing Sing. And speaking of prison, howsabout a followup on a film called Detention?

Sing (2016)

With all of the competitive amateur hours free for the watching with one click of the cable remote, it’s a wonder anyone would squander their entertainment dollars on more of the same. And yet here we are. The characters here are as nondescript as the generic PVC figurines found bagged and stapled to a header-card hanging on a Dollar Tree rack. You know, the ones your cheapskate parents gave you instead of the plush Disneykins you asked for.

Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow) shares director’s credit with character designer Christophe Lourdelet on an animated intermingling of Mickey and Judy’s “Let’s put on a show!” sticktoitiveness and a pinch of American Idol thrown in for viewers whose cultural references don’t stretch beyond yesterday. At best, it’s a colorful, glaringly overlit toddler’s guide through a galaxy of cinema’s founding cliches. A koala bear named Moon is our central character, a struggling small town impresario with a string of flops to his credit. His decision to put on a singing competition unravels when it’s learned that his ancient secretary, the iguana whose detachable glass eye earns the film a few laughs, accidentally adds a couple of extra zeros to the $1000 grand prize. When made aware of the mistake, Moon blithely goes along with the lie, hoping that the town’s leading patron of the arts will bail him out.

Everything about this children’s cartoon skews cute and cuddly, right down to the prickly quills launching off the backs of the rockin’ Punk porcupines. To the film’s credit, rather than deafening the audience with a spate of instantly forgettable original compositions, the soundtrack is composed of familiar tunes given the soundalike treatment by a vocal cast of A-listers (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson) and Seth MacFarlane. And I’ll put the spectacular flooding of the theater up against anything found in The Shape of Water. Other than that, it’s 100 minutes spent in the service of computer-generated animals playing instruments, with a chase scene interspersed to liven things up. Does one need to see the film in order to appreciate the sequel? I suffered; why shouldn’t you?

Detention (2019)

It’s best to bring along a book for the long, scary patches that lend life the film’s title. A few decades back, it wasn’t safe to take in a horror film, lest one be permanently scarred by the vision of a pale, young Asian lass, her face partially obscured by strands of filthy, oleaginous hair. It’s the trope that keeps on giving. Set during the censorious “White Terror” period, one would think a story in which the Taiwanese government tortured students based on the number of banned books read would be monstrous enough without the aid of hair-lowering schoolgirls and a spindly CG reject from the MCU. As a monster movie, this had the makings of a keen political thriller, a fact writer-director John Hsu stresses with regular flights of unwarranted fantasy. But without the benefit of zombification, how does a person go about giving chase just moments after all of their teeth and one eye have been removed from their sockets? Hsu and his fellow scenarists write off the gore with one line of dialogue: “We have both animality and demonic nature and also divinity at the same time.” And those offended by Licorice Pizza would do best to ignore the May-December romance between teacher and student. Hsu certainly did. Wait… My research indicates this is based on a video game. Never mind.

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Sing! When the toys fly off the shelves!
Sing! When the toys fly off the shelves!

The most challenging component of being my stickling, anal-retentive moviegoing self has been this dumbfounding devotion to logic and historical continuity that rides roughshod inside my skull. The trailer to Sing spoke to me, saying, “You are free to devote two hours of your life to the service of another feature.” Happy years passed without Sing getting stuck inside my head. But all bets were off when a sequel crossed my desk during a week that came up one film shy of the quota. Surely this would be one #2 easy enough to pass without benefit of the original — hardly the same sacrilege as viewing Bergman’s “Death of God” trilogy in reverse order — but damn if this inquiring mind didn’t voluntarily serve two hours of hard labor with the original before passing judgement on Sing 2, or as I like to call it, 100 Minutes in Sing Sing. And speaking of prison, howsabout a followup on a film called Detention?

Sing (2016)

With all of the competitive amateur hours free for the watching with one click of the cable remote, it’s a wonder anyone would squander their entertainment dollars on more of the same. And yet here we are. The characters here are as nondescript as the generic PVC figurines found bagged and stapled to a header-card hanging on a Dollar Tree rack. You know, the ones your cheapskate parents gave you instead of the plush Disneykins you asked for.

Garth Jennings (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Son of Rambow) shares director’s credit with character designer Christophe Lourdelet on an animated intermingling of Mickey and Judy’s “Let’s put on a show!” sticktoitiveness and a pinch of American Idol thrown in for viewers whose cultural references don’t stretch beyond yesterday. At best, it’s a colorful, glaringly overlit toddler’s guide through a galaxy of cinema’s founding cliches. A koala bear named Moon is our central character, a struggling small town impresario with a string of flops to his credit. His decision to put on a singing competition unravels when it’s learned that his ancient secretary, the iguana whose detachable glass eye earns the film a few laughs, accidentally adds a couple of extra zeros to the $1000 grand prize. When made aware of the mistake, Moon blithely goes along with the lie, hoping that the town’s leading patron of the arts will bail him out.

Everything about this children’s cartoon skews cute and cuddly, right down to the prickly quills launching off the backs of the rockin’ Punk porcupines. To the film’s credit, rather than deafening the audience with a spate of instantly forgettable original compositions, the soundtrack is composed of familiar tunes given the soundalike treatment by a vocal cast of A-listers (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson) and Seth MacFarlane. And I’ll put the spectacular flooding of the theater up against anything found in The Shape of Water. Other than that, it’s 100 minutes spent in the service of computer-generated animals playing instruments, with a chase scene interspersed to liven things up. Does one need to see the film in order to appreciate the sequel? I suffered; why shouldn’t you?

Detention (2019)

It’s best to bring along a book for the long, scary patches that lend life the film’s title. A few decades back, it wasn’t safe to take in a horror film, lest one be permanently scarred by the vision of a pale, young Asian lass, her face partially obscured by strands of filthy, oleaginous hair. It’s the trope that keeps on giving. Set during the censorious “White Terror” period, one would think a story in which the Taiwanese government tortured students based on the number of banned books read would be monstrous enough without the aid of hair-lowering schoolgirls and a spindly CG reject from the MCU. As a monster movie, this had the makings of a keen political thriller, a fact writer-director John Hsu stresses with regular flights of unwarranted fantasy. But without the benefit of zombification, how does a person go about giving chase just moments after all of their teeth and one eye have been removed from their sockets? Hsu and his fellow scenarists write off the gore with one line of dialogue: “We have both animality and demonic nature and also divinity at the same time.” And those offended by Licorice Pizza would do best to ignore the May-December romance between teacher and student. Hsu certainly did. Wait… My research indicates this is based on a video game. Never mind.

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