SING. US, 2016. Voices of: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C.Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Jennifer Saunders, Jennifer Hudson, Garth Jennings, Nick Offerman, Rhea Perlman, Laraine Newman, Peter Serafinowicz, Leslie Jones. Directed by Garth Edwards. 198 minutes. Rated G.

Here is a cheerful show, something for the children with all the animals, something for the adults with the memories of “the show must go on” movies of the past.

The film was written and directed by Garth Jennings (Son of Rambow), who also voices the intriguing character of the secretary, Miss Crawley, very effectively and supplying other voices.

The setting is an American city, familiar to Americans and to moviegoers, a touch of San Francisco. However, it is populated by animals, no humans in sight, the animals going about their daily business, an enormous range of animals: baboons as criminals, rhinoceroses as police… This, in itself, is entertaining, a bright city, brightly coloured characters, everything sunny.

But not quite for the central character, Buster Moon, voiced with extreme energy by Matthew McConaughey, and, of all things, a koala with no Australian explanation, obviously an expatriate who has absorbed American culture! He plays a failed entrepreneur, is trying to live up to his father’s reputation, the banks ready to take over his theatre, getting the brainwave to put on a singing competition – but Miss Crawley puts extra zeros inadvertently on the publicity, a prize of $100,000 – and crowds wanting to audition.

The selection that Moon makes is rather puzzling, their talent not immediately perceived by the audience. What is important is their performances, their self-confidence or lack of it, rehearsals, Moon encouraging them, their eventually succeeding – and, of course, despite the young elephant stomping around the stage and bringing the house down (literally), the final rock concert draws the crowds and is a huge success!

A great deal of the enjoyment is looking at the particular animals and listening to the star voices: Rosita, a pig with an extra large family, a talent for dancing, Reese Witherspoon; a mouse who is exceedingly vein, a gambler, but singing very well, Seth McFarlane; a British baboon whose father is a robber forcing his son to be a getaway driver, with a talent for piano and singing, Taron Egerton; Gunter, a self-confident dancing pig, Nick Kroll; a hedgehog, teenage, who composes her own songs, Scarlett Johansson; Meena, an extraordinarily shy young elephant, Tori Kelly.

John C Reilly is a sheep, Moon’s best friend, and Jennifer Saunders is the former diva grandmother, a performance which, of course, is absolutely fabulous.

So, what’s not to enjoy!

Universal.     Released December 26th.

Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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