FINDING ONE’S VOICE: Sing and Slash


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Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1Sing is an animated comedy about a koala bear producer about to lose his theater to the bank. To save his theater he comes up with what he seems to think is the most brilliant and original concept ever in the history of furrykind, though original and brilliant are very loosely defined here. He will hold a singing competition (now, I know that stories like this do take place in alternative universes, but it may still be a bit hard to believe no one has come up with American Idol, The Voice, or even Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour yet).
But actually, it’s not that bad an idea on the koala’s part. And in the end, there is nothing that wrong with the film. It’s perfectly pleasant and fun at times.
At the same time, it never really grabs hold of you either.

 

rev-2This may be due to the filmmakers being somewhat trapped. The characters are all given rather familiar conflicts (a shy teen, an underappreciated housewife and mother, the female half of a duo who hides her talent under a bushel so her partner can take center stage…).

 

There’s nothing that original and vibrant here. There are none of the real hard luck stories you hear on the reality shows on TV. The closest the audience gets is a cockney gorilla who father leads a gang of hold up men. But even here, this character’s issue isn’t so much the possibility of being drawn into a life of crime, but the more typical one of the father who doesn’t respect his son’s desire to be a singer.

 

In the end, the most successful and interesting character is a narcissistic mouse who plays sax and sings My Way with all the bravura of Sinatra himself.

 

But what is screenwriter Gareth Jennings, who directed along with Christopher Lourdelet, to do? This is a family friendly film, and there’s an inherent limit as to how far such things can be taken.

 

rev-3Still, it must be said that when someone starts singing and dancing, it’s amazing how quickly one forget the films faults. And the animation is dazzling in its details, complete with camera POV shots that feel like a drone is flying through the city, often moving faster than the speed of light.

 

With the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth McFarland, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly and Jennifers’ Hudson and Saunders as Nana young and old.

 

rev-4Slash, written and directed by Clay Liford, revolves around a high school teen who becomes involved in the literary movement called slash, wherein authors create stories from existing characters, often with erotic, if not homo-erotic frankness.

 

The movie is quite sincere and has its heart in the right place. The central character Neil (Michael Johnston) fantasizes about men; writes stories about male aliens having interplanetary and interspecies sex with each other; and is crushing on the male lead of an unidentifiable play (and I hope it remains so, the writing seems worse than the slash stories Neil writes).

 

At the same time, he is also attracted to fellow female student Julia (Hannah Marks), a fellow rebel who introduces him to the world of slash; helps him crack open his shell; and even beds him.

 

I think the movie is attempting to say something about fluid sexuality and I applaud the filmmaker’s ambitions in doing so. But I think the story falls short because all involved can’t quite figure out what to say, or, if indeed they know what they want to say, haven’t quite figured out how to say it.

 

rev-5In addition, often films like this that focus on someone who is different usually finales with the character finding a support group that helps him become his authentic self. But in the end, Slash is about someone trying to find his authentic self, but rather than find a support group, he finds people as callous and petty as the characters in a “mean girls” movie.

 

And, unfortunately, in the end, when Neil reads his stuff, it’s clear we have no budding Hemingway or Faulkner before us. So I’m not sure the movie convinces us of the value of slash as a writing genre, but only as an emotional outlet, and I’m not sure the movie fully convinces us that it works on that level either.

 

With Michael Ian Black as the older man whom Neil tries to have sex with.

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