Sing Movie Review

sing

Illumination, the newcomer to the animation oligopoly of Disney and Dreamworks, has released their new animated animal movie, Sing.

Sing follows the story of a singing competition like American Idol, X Factor, The Voice and many others. At times the shows are parodied, but mostly the story is told straight.

Buster Moon, played by Mathew McConaughey, is a owner of a theater known for its poorly produced musicals. Buster is also a koala. He’s in debt and the bank is close to foreclosing on the theater which doubles as Buster’s home. Buster starts the singing competition in a last ditch effort to save the theater.

The movie tells many short stories about the different leading contestants, just like singing contest shows try to bring the contestants personal stories to life through interviews and documentary style shots of their daily lives.

I think Sing does a better job of this personal storytelling because inherently, the stories can be more personal and involved in a fictional setting than in reality where the cameras aren’t necessarily around at the moment of a character’s tragic loss/big break/whatever.

The characters are Rosita the pig, Johnny the gorilla, Mike the mouse, Ash the porcupine, and Meena the elephant. I feel your enjoyment of the movie hinges on your connection to one of them. Let’s go through them one by one and if their stories seems interesting than I think you should go see Sing.

Rosita is a homemaker with 25 little piglets. Her husband works from dawn to dusk while she cooks, cleans, and manages the household for her family. Feeling a little underappreciated at home, Rosita joins the competition to find feelings of satisfaction and acceptance that aren’t present in her domestic life. Rosita is paired with another pig, Gunter, for her performance. Gunter is a minor character inserted for comedic effect with no significant story or character development of his own.

Johnny is the young adult son of a burglar. He stands lookout for his father’s gang, warning then when the cops might interrupt one of their heists. Johnny wants to get away from the criminal life using his natural singing talent which his father has never acknowledged.

Mike is a street musician and small time criminal. Feeling that he has been unfairly denied his chance at the big life, Mike enters the contest for the fame and fortune that come with winning.

Ash is a member of a rock duo with her boyfriend, Lance. He is resistant to Ash’s desire to “sell out” or be successful as most people call it. When Ash makes it into the contest finals without Lance, that puts a strain on their fragile relationship which Ash channels into her music.

Meena is a shy girl who lives at home with her mother, grandmother, and overbearing grandfather. Meena loves to sing, but has confidence issues that prevent her from performing in front of an audience. Her family is aware of her amazing singing talent and push her to enter the competition so her dreams of being a star can be realized.

There are a few other characters that enter the contest initially but their stories are not explored and they are eliminated before the finale.

The plot is… a little predictable. I’m not saying I wasn’t satisfied, but don’t expect any surprises. The movie is targeted at children and is accordingly, simple enough for children to understand.

Each of the stories is nice and all the characters get happy endings in their own ways. The voice acting and singing were quite good as well. My wife and I have been listening to bits of the soundtrack since we saw it.

At first glance the animation style felt like Illumination attempted to capitalize on the success of Zootopia but I noticed its own individual flare once I got into it.

I’d recommend Sing to anyone who likes good musicals, to children, and to anyone who is interested in at least two of the main characters (one is not enough!). The movie appeals to a fairly broad crowd and I think the soundtrack has staying power. Definitely enjoyed it!

-GoCorral

Advertisements

Nashville: The Attractions

Nashville, is a tourist city, a state capital, and a center for the music, car, and health industries. All these things lead to a great deal of fun things to do, see, and visit in the city.

Nashville has an almost exact replica of the Parthenon from Athens in the American city’s Centennial Park.

No joke here, the tour guides are awesome.
Beautiful AND COMPLETELY UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW of the Nashville Parthenon.

The Nashville Parthenon is complete, unlike the Athenian Parthenon which seems Continue reading

Nashville: The City

I hate saying anything negative about Nashville as I had a great time while there, but the city itself was not pleasant.

As typical of large cities, there are tons of one-way streets downtown that we weren’t familiar with AND that weren’t marked on maps.

Compounding that confusion, a number of streets were blocked off due to the July 4th event.

EVEN MORE! A lot of streets were blocked off by construction work and what one tour guide called, “Tennessee’s state bird, the crane!” (It’s actually the mockingbird if you were curious).

Crane's so tall I needed to do a collage!
Crane’s so tall I needed to do a collage!

Additionally, parking was… difficult, but at least we expected that. Parking in the Gulch neighborhood on the edge of downtown and walking in over the railroad was the way to go for us.

Second major problem with the city was the smell.

There was a faint garbage stench throughout downtown. Not exactly sure why.

Obviously it got stronger when we got close to dumpsters, but I’ve never experienced a problem like this in any major city. Seems like the dumpsters just don’t trap smells in Tennessee’s humidity.

Final issue with Nashville was the myth of Southern hospitality. I’ve heard of, experienced it, and expected it in Nashville, but it was not so!

Not that anybody was particularly rude, just people were notably less polite than what I’d experienced in Davis, CA.

Maybe it’s because Nashville is a tourist town and the locals hate tourists? Maybe it was due to the extra stress of the downtown construction and July 4th? Maybe something in the local news had everyone on edge?

Whatever it was, the people there just weren’t as nice as I expected them to be.

Like I said, all of these things by no means ruined the vacation. There were just… noticeable.

-GoCorral

Nashville: The Opry

Frank Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers
Frank Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers

The single greatest attraction in Nashville, Tennessee is the Grand Ole Opry, a radio show turned concert that has been active since 1925.

Given that it’s Nashville most of the Opry’s music is country.

We got tickets to the concert for our first day in Nashville. The headliners were Rascal Flats and Frankie Ballard. The other acts were The Gatlin Brothers, LOCASH, Parker Milsap, and someone else I can’t remember.

The concert hall is a big place that seats over four thousand people.

There’s a concession stand and they let you bring the food into the actual venue which was new for me. Rarely do I get to bring food into a theater-type venue.

The actual music was quite nice. My favorite was Parker Milsap and my wife enjoyed LOCASH, buying their new album after we left. We both liked Rascal Flats and Frankie Ballard (the names that brought us to the concert).

The Opry is also a radio show on 650AM in Tennessee and maybe in other places.

The Opry typically plays twice a night. They repeated the concert, so as we drove to the hotel we got to listen to everything again!

We liked the experience so much that we went back for a tour.

We got to go backstage and see the musician’s entrance, the dressing rooms, and the enormous green room that felt more like a living room.

Each of the dressing rooms was themed for different country music stereotypes (old dude, young cowboy, up-and-coming girl, comedic woman, etc.).

We got to go on the stage and get our picture taken standing on “The Circle.”

The Circle is a cutout of the Opry’s previous longtime venue, the Ryman Auditorium.

The Ryman eventually became a bit small for the audiences that wanted to attend an Opry show so the new concert hall was built specifically for the Opry show.

The Grand Ole Opry House holds twice as many people as the Ryman and still routinely fills up nearly all the seats!

After the tour there was a July 4th weekend concert as well.

Before the official concert there was an opening act outside by Fifty Shades of Hey who did a bunch of covers of famous songs.

Fifty Shades of Hay is all about BDSM (Bluegrass, Duets, and Super Music)
Fifty Shades of Hay is all about BDSM (Bluegrass, Duets, and Super Music)

The second concert was great too, but the first one was definitely more to my preferences and my wife’s.

A great experience and one of the most important parts of Nashville. I’d say if you’re only there for one night going to an Opry show is what you should be doing!

-GoCorral

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

My parents-in-law visited for Memorial Day weekend.

They’ve been coming up to Sacramento every Memorial Day weekend for ages because my father-in-law plays drums in the Sacramento Music Festival every year.

Look at those hands!
Look at those hands!
The difference for this visit was instead of all of us staying in a hotel in Sacramento, we had them stay over at our house in Davis.

They arrived on Friday night after we’d spent the day cleaning up the house (Things get really dirty when you’re still in the moving in process!).

My father-in-law wasn’t playing in the Sacramento Festival until Sunday, but he did have a gig in Oakland on Saturday night.

We spent Saturday hanging out and taking a tour of the activities in Davis.

Our new house is right by the Davis Greenbelt, a walking path that goes throughout the whole city and connects most of the city’s parks. We went walking on that and showed the in-laws the neighborhood that we live in now.

They got to visit with the cats and see Carma’s injury.

After my father-in-law left for his job in Oakland we went to our old apartment which we are still paying our lease on and swam in the pool there. I didn’t swim because I thought it was still too cold, but my wife and mother-in-law did.

Sunday morning I had an unfortunate surprise of having to do more schoolwork. I’d thought I was done, but it turned out that I needed to redo one of my lab reports. I spent the morning doing that and then we went to the Music Festival.

Usually we go out for ice cream after the festival, but this time we went to our favorite ice cream place, Leatherby’s, before. Ice cream for lunch is great!

The Festival was a lot of fun. The room my father-in-law’s band, The Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, played in was so full that even though we were related to one of the band members it was difficult to find a seat.

After dancing and listening to some 20s and 30s style jazz we came back home and I continued to work on my lab report late into the night.

The next morning I continued to work on my report with a break to chat and talk with the in-laws before they left.

A great little visit from family. Lots of fun!

We figured out we could probably use another little trashcan, a lamp, and some hangers for future guests.

That’s the story from Memorial Day Weekend!

-GoCorral

Real New Year’s Eve

My D&D group celebrates Fake New Year’s Eve because we usually have other things we want to do on actual New Year’s Eve. Here’s what I did this year!

I went up to Chico to visit some friends and go to a club.

My wife has kept in touch with one of her best friends from college. She’s moved to Chico where her fiance is going to college.

We’ve visited them before and its a lot of fun. Even more this time because we went clubbing on New Year’s! My wife and I are far too insular to usually go clubbing even though we like it a lot.

We got to their apartment around noon and we did not immediately go to the club. We instead immediately went to lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

After that we went on a walk downtown to a comic and game shop, but didn’t get anything (They didn’t have what we wanted). We did look at all the Munchkin sets they had though. I learned that my wife’s friend’s fiance plays Munchkin, but just like me, can’t find people to play with him!

We got back to the house and the girls went to go gossip while the fiance showed me the popular game, Binding of Isaac. I’d heard about it before and always get excited about it because my name is Isaac too.

I knew it was a old school style game, kind of like Zelda. There are rooms in a dungeon and each room has its own set of monsters. You have bombs and ranged weapons and special items and all sorts of stuff.

I never really understood the plot of the game before. There isn’t much, but basically Isaac’s mom wants to sacrifice him to the Devil. This causes Isaac to cry (his tears are his weapons) and he fights back to escape her clutches and those of the Devil.

We watched the awesome Disney movie, Brother Bear, sometime before dinner, which was pasta and garlic bread.

Then we went out to the Beach!

The Beach is a pretty typical club. Cover fee to get in, tons of drinks to choose from if you want to wait forever in line, and a dance floor that hardly anyone was dancing in when we got there at 10:40. My wife and I were some of the first people to get on the dance floor and we pretty much stayed there until midnight.

The party heated up around 11:00 as more people got on the dance floor. The DJ didn’t seem to understand how slow songs fit into his mix, but was pretty good otherwise. Never lingered too long on a song, so if you liked it you got enough of it, but if you didn’t it was gone quickly.

My wife wore a sparkly gold sequin shirt that other girl’s occasionally got their hair caught in. There was a roudy guy that jumped all over the floor that the fiance and I both got to shove away from our group.

At midnight my wife and I got to kiss and a bunch of balloons dropped on the floor. The sound of popping balloons filled the air and we left the club because we were pretty tired.

The four block walk to the car was hard for my wife because she only had the heels (uncomfortable) and didn’t bring a jacket for the freezing weather. We made it and she got under the blanket we’d thought to bring ahead of time.

We fell asleep back at the apartment and left in the morning after a nice breakfast of tater tots and waffles. All in all a great start to the New Year!

-Mister Ed

Annie Movie Review

Annie Movie Poster

I went to see the new Annie movie recently with my wife. She’s a big fan of one of the previous movies, the 1982 Columbia Pictures version.

As my wife’s a fan of the 1982 version we spent most of our time comparing the new 2014 movie to the older one.

There’s some rather obvious changes they made to adapt the movie to the modern world.

The original was set during the Great Depression with Daddy Warbucks earning his money by selling weapons. The new movie replaces Warbucks punny name with Will Stacks and his stacks of money he earned from his mobile phone company.

Annie used to be in an orphanage with dozens of other girls. Now she lives in foster care with four other kids.

Roosevelt is removed from the movie. A political element is still present as Stacks is running for mayor. He takes over Annie’s foster care as a PR move for his campaign instead of the nonspecified reason that Warbucks does in the first movie.

A few of the songs are missing, but the originals are joined by a few new ones such as “Opportunity” which you can hear on Youtube.

The song performances themselves are good with the exception of Cameron Diaz who plays the evil foster caretaker, Miss Hannigan. “Easy Street” and “Little Girls” are much worse than their 1982 versions, but how could anybody compete with Carol Burnett and Tim Curry?

The new Rooster character is a lot creepier than how I perceived the Tim Curry’s comical performance. I’m unsure if that was a decision made by the director or just that when the character is updated for a modern audience his creepiness comes out in a way that I can appreciate.

The movie has a few problems with lip syncing which is… odd. You’d think that’d be something they could’ve worked out by now with software.

There’s tons of other new additions to update the movie, Annie has a Twitter account run by her fans for example. There are still plenty of homages and jokes to please people like me who liked the original. If you enjoyed the 1982 Annie then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this new version as well. Quvenzhane Wallis and Jamie Foxx are just as cute as Aileen Quinn and Albert Finney.

-Mister Ed