This week I took my daughter to see the latest animated movie, Sing, on the day before she started school. We were the only people in the cinema, making for a very personal experience. Animation has moved on from the cartoons of my childhood and the current trend is anthropomorphism. Technological advances allow writers and illustrators to depict a contemporary multi-cultural society. One might quibble about gorillas being bank robbers and bears being gangsters but Sing shows all the animals living in relative harmony. This contrasts Zootopia which has racial tensions in its metropolis. The theme is the same though as characters chase a seemingly impossible dream. In Sing we see the stereotypes of a shy obese teenager, a housewife consumed by daily chores, a flamboyant homosexual, a busker, a rebellious teenager and a son who doesn’t want to be part of his father’s business. Wholesome familiar characters who, in real life, would not progress beyond dreaming.
I though initially that the film would be a parody of contemporary talent shows where musicians and artists apply for an opportunity to become overnight stars. Like Leona Lewis who launched an outstanding career after winning the X Factor in 2006. Approximately 200,000 people applied for last year’s X-Factor. Most are filtered out by three auditions before they have the chance to perform to the judges and only 12 make it through to the televised finals. There is a misconception, fostered by films like Sing, that talent alone is enough. It isn’t. The few people who succeed also have determination, a willingness to work hard and the ability to listen to constructive criticism.
Sing isn’t really about a modern talent show, reflecting more a lost music era of impromptu live and raw performances by emerging bands. It’s about a group of diverse people working together to achieve common individual goals. All but one unite behind beleaguered showman, Mr. Moon, despite knowing that he lied to them about the prize money. I was reminded of this in an email from script consultant Philip Shelly who commented about a lot of successful writers having generosity of spirit. A willingness to share their experiences and help others. Whatever our dreams, we can all do that.