Sing: Achingly predictable
Creatures great and small pursue glittering dreams of musical stardom in Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet's colour-saturated comedy.
Lovingly composed by Illumination Entertainment, the animation studio responsible for Despicable Me, Minions and The Secret Life Of Pets, Sing is a feel-good fable pitched squarely at a fame-hungry generation that believes the quickest route to success is via the audition room of a televised talent competition.
As cautionary tales go, this fails to hit the high notes and lacks the narrative sophistication of last year's visually dazzling, anthropomorphic animation Zootropolis.
However, the gentle laughs, gooey sentiment and crowd-pleasing triumph against adversity in Jennings' script come together in sweet harmony.
Humour is broad and resolutely family-friendly, and there is a noticeable lack of sly visual gags targeted at adults.
Sparing use of the ever-reliable fart gag - courtesy of a flatulent buffalo - and a running joke with a cute red panda girl group should guarantee giggles from younger children.
Koala bear entrepreneur Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) inherited a theatre from his father, but the business has gone into decline and now creditors are haranguing Buster to settle his debts.
In order to woo audiences and save the business, Buster organises a singing competition with a 1,000 US dollar prize.
"Real talent from real life - that's what audiences want!" he tells sheep pal Eddie (John C. Reilly).
Unfortunately, Buster's elderly iguana assistant Ms Crawly (Jennings), whose glass eye has a nasty habit of popping out of its socket, accidentally adds two more zeroes to the prize on promotional posters.
By the time Buster discovers her costly error, long audition queues have formed around the theatre.
He ploughs on regardless, shortlisting pig housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), who is paired awkwardly with lycra-clad extrovert Gunter (Nick Kroll); crooning mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane), who is heavily in debt to gangster bears; insecure elephant Meena (Tori Kelly), who suffers from crippling stage fright; teenage gorilla Johnny (Taron Egerton), who is being groomed for criminality by his bank-robbing father (Peter Serafinowicz); and punk-rocking porcupine Ash (Scarlett Johansson), who has recently broken up with her boyfriend (Beck Bennett).
As the live performance beckons, Lady Luck deals Buster a catastrophic losing hand.
Sing is achingly predictable, right down to a contrived subplot involving sassy sheep diva Nana Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders) that preaches participation in a competition rather than winning.
Performances are lively and Jennifer Hudson provides the singing voice of one character for a Beatles medley.
Jennings and Lourdelet's film falls a little flat with its song choices and a showstopping rendition of Leonard Cohen's haunting Hallelujah is wasted in the middle of the film when it would make a perfect emotional crescendo for the underpowered final act.