Five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life.
Chris Meledandri’s Illumination has proven adept at packaging the Despicable Me franchise into a monster brand. The big test for the studio will be this year when it releases two original films, with Sing being the quirkier concept of the two. So far, there’s nothing to suggest they won’t be able to pull it off.
Like with Minions, Illumination continues to do a great job of selling its films with light visual comedy — the Dachshund getting massaged by the kitchen mixer in Secret Life of Pets has been shared literally hundreds of millions of times on social media — and the Sing trailer keeps up with the same formula, especially with the pig in the gold-sequined track suit singing Lady Gaga. Illumination and Universal’s marketing are even repackaging the visual comedy in easy-to-share chunks on social media, such as on Instagram.
Audiences may eventually catch on to this Illumination formula and reject it outright, like they did with Disney in the late-1990s, and DreamWorks in the early-2010s, but for now, Illumination is sailing smooth.