Life can feel like a competition sometimes, with all of us striving to be the best at everything we do. And it’s easy to get caught up in the win-and-lose of what it is we’re chasing.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with trying to be the best version of one’s self—I hope that’s something my kids strive to do. But I also hope they remember to focus more on finding joy in the process—the journey over the end result.
The new holiday blockbuster movie from Illumination studios, Sing, teaches us this lesson by way of a singing competition. Each of the contestants enters the competition with the hopes of being the winner and thinks coming out on top will ultimately change their lives.
Matthew McConaughey lends his voice to the main character; a charming koala named Buster Moon who has big dreams for the crumbling, majestic theatre his father helped him build. With the threat of foreclosure looming, Moon decides to host an epic singing competition to raise money and bring people back into the theatre.
The movie is set in a world that looks just like ours, but is inhabited with animals (played by well-known Hollywood actors) who go about their day-to-day business. Reese Witherspoon is Rosita the pig, whose character I could relate to. She’s the loving, overworked mother to 25 piglets, who knows she can sing but hasn’t found a way to share that talent any further than her kitchen sink while doing the dishes. Seth MacFarlane plays Mike, a diminutive mouse with a big ego, who is performing on the streets as a busker who barely gets noticed despite his booming voice. Taron Egerton and Tori Kelly play young people with the potential to explore and reveal their true talents by entering the contest.
Egerton is a gorilla named Johnny who is meant to be living the thug life, within his father’s gang, but would rather be belting out Sam Smith songs in the alleyways where he’s keeping watch for getaways. Kelly lends her talents to the character of a deeply shy teenage elephant with a gorgeous voice who struggles to overcome her stage fright, despite a large, rambunctious family of cheerleaders.
As the movie unfolds, we watch each of the characters come to understand that the chance to share their talents with an audience—no matter how small—is more important than winning the competition (well, except for Mike the mouse with the ego, but every good movie needs a character with attitude). The characters in the story have to find the courage to do the unexpected. The audience in the movie theatre becomes one with the audience in Buster Moon’s crumbling theatre, as we are all reminded that dreams are worth chasing, even when you don’t know how things will turn out.
The music in this movie is fantastic (we loved the vocals), as is the animation and writing. But the real treasure is found in its message: never give up on finding and doing whatever it is that makes your heart sing.