I have never been emotionally hardy enough to embrace competition reality television shows as easily as the rest of America has. Watching more than 10 minutes of American Idol always had me clenching my jaw to the point of pain, as the show evoked exactly the reaction it strove for: sympathy and investment. I detested Simon Cowell ragging on the desperate and the hopeful, as my (overextended) empathy and projection (onto the victimized contestants) made each rejection hit me harder than who it was aimed towards.
On paper, Sing was perfect: a faux reality show, built on carefully constructed backstories and, of course, ending triumphantly, with all, or almost all parties satisfied, because, unlike reality, this movie was allowed to provide a plethora of happy endings.
However, while I did enjoy this movie, this ability stunted the movie because it allowed its unreality to become unbelievable rather than simply alternative, and therefore its message came off a bit too easy, too simple, too expected.
I can sum Sing up in four words: Everyone achieved their dreams.
And it’s a nice sentiment, and there are moments when everything feels all too real, largely relating to Buster Moon’s storyline, but ultimately ends up falling flat with a larger than life ending.
Buster Moon, simultaneously the protagonist and antagonist, is the driving force of the movie. He, like all of the other main characters, start the movie in a rut, and his action of starting a music competition gives rise to mass reaction, as the prospective competitors form a line around the block for a chance to win $100,000. Ash, Johnny, Rosita, and Mike, and Meena are such competitors, as they audition their way out of their respective dissatisfaction with their lives and begin a new stage, whether it be an upgrade from backup singer to soloist or gang member to entertainer. And while Buster does not actually have the promised $100,000, he is certainly determined, as the Moon Theatre is not only his life but also the product of his father’s efforts, as it is his unceasing efforts to save it which drives the plot. These efforts, this unrelenting pursuit of his passion is reflected in the competitors’ efforts to redefine their status quo and pursue their own ideal realities.
However, as inspiring as this appears, it falls flat in that there is no lasting repercussions of this drive, no true sacrifice made for any of the characters, which takes away from the meaning. After all, if nothing is lost how can something be gained? While I’m not saying morals of stories must purport to be realistic, it is their truth which is supposed to resonate, and there is a tangible lack of truth in relation to our current reality present in Sing. Father and son and husband and wife are on better terms than ever, girl is better off without guy, girl can sing in public. This artificiality is reflected in that there is no true victory in terms of Buster Moon. He does not raise his money through all of the people paying to watch his show, his theater isn’t successful, he is given the money because he proved to one person he had potential.
Therefore, while the movie was enjoyable, it proved why faux reality tv shows are an oxymoron. The base of all reality tv shows, reality, however fake they may be in the context of real life, was unavoidably removed in Sing. And don’t even get me started on its lack of real and sustained storylines for the female characters.