Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Sing

Go To
Sing is a 2016 computer-animated Jukebox Musical from Universal and Illumination Entertainment. The film was directed by Garth Jennings and Christophe Lourdelet, the former having previously directed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with Jennings also writing the screenplay.

The movie centers around Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), an optimistic koala who plans on using a singing competition to save his struggling theater from being closed. The contest quickly attracts a big crowd of talented wannabes, such as the frazzled pig housewife Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), mouse street musician Mike (Seth MacFarlane), reluctant gorilla juvenile delinquent Johnny (Taron Egerton), teen porcupine punk girl Ash (Scarlett Johansson), and the ultra-shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly). Buster is initially aided by his slacker goat friend Eddie (John C. Reilly), but complicating things further is a typo in the original flyer: one that listed the award as $100,000 instead of Buster's meager $1,000...

The film was released on December 21, 2016. A teaser can be found here.

A sequel has been announced, pending release on December 22, 2021. All main voices are set to return with the possible exception of MacFarlane and Reilly, and Bobby Cannavale, Halsey, Pharrell Williams and Bono will be joining.


Not to be confused with Sing, a live-action short film also released in 2016.

This movie features the following tropes:

  • Acquired Error at the Printer: The prize money was supposed to be $1000 ( or at least, that's what Buster claimed it was), but Ms. Crawly's Glass Eye slips out of her socket and hits a couple zeroes, and well...
  • Adult Fear:
    • The flooding and collapse of the theatre becomes this when you remember that Meena, Rosita, and Johnny all had family members seen on screen and they came very close to drowning or being crushed in the crumbling building. Especially strong on Meena and Rosita's case since Meena's family was bursting with pride when she told them she was working on the show and she nearly died on the job (especially since the flood pushed Meena into the ticket booth window, and she only got unstuck thanks to Johnny), and Rosita's enormous family proved that they cannot function without her around.
    • Advertisement:
    • Rosita gets one after the above example. She returns home after the flood to find her Rube Goldberg Device has malfunctioned and left her entire family hanging by clothesline pins very high above the ground.
  • Air Guitar: Ash can be seen briefly doing this in one of the offstage cuts during Meena's performance.
  • Alliterative Name: Nana Noodleman.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Lance and Becky, except Ash walks in on them.
  • All There in the Script: The lady mouse Mike tries to woo is named Nancy in the screenplay.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Miss Crawley in the short Love at First Sight. After her attempts at online dating fail, she ends up wandering the streets dejected among various couples.
  • Animal Stereotypes:
    • Gunter, the pig who Buster pairs up with Rosita, hogs the spotlight and is the largest ham ever.
    • Johnny the gorilla's father is a violent thug, just like the rest of his gang. Johnny himself averts this, being a Gentle Giant.
    • Of course, Mike the rodent is going to be singing Rat Pack songs. And he manages in several places to terrify Meena, despite her being exponentially bigger.
    • Rosita goes to great lengths to keep her house clean and orderly, which is in line with how pigs act in real life. On the other hand, her workaholic husband Norman and her 25 kids can be real slobs like stereotypical pigs. Justified in the latter case since they are pretty young kids.
    • One of the cops on a helicopter that's looking for Johnny's dad is a pig, a slang term for a cop.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Porcupine quills detach easily, but they can't actually 'shoot' their quills.
  • Artistic License – Physics: A hovering helicopter would create a downdraft, not an updraft.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • Rosita's husband, Norman, initially gives off a neglectful husband vibe, but the truth is that he's just a workaholic and he really does care for his family. During the climax, as Rosita is swarmed by her piglets after her performance, Norman bolts onstage to give her The Big Damn Kiss.
    • Johnny and his father prove this is the case. While their relationship for the majority of the film is tense and argumentative at best and downright malicious on Marcus' part after his arrest, there's no denying Johnny's desire to please his father nor Marcus' desire to make amends after he sees Johnny singing on stage. It comes to a head when Marcus breaks out of prison and is pursued by helicopters as he goes to tell his son that he does love him, and he's really very proud of him, before giving himself up again.
    • Mike's lady friend seems at first like she may only be interested in him because she thinks he's rich, but when he's in danger from the bear gangsters, she's genuinely distraught and races to his rescue.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Mike pisses off a trio of Russian gangster bears in a club after they catch him cheating in a game of cards. They end up serving as an Arc Villain for his subplot and cause a lot of trouble for Moon.
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: Sing features some some genuinely engaging vocalists: Ash the rocking porcupine, Mike the crooner mouse, Johnny the tenor gorilla, Rosita the sonorous pig, and Meena the glorious elephant. This talent pool is so good that the audience doesn't seem to mind that the theater is a shambles.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Bears are the main villains as they cause the destruction of Moon Theater and try to murder Mike twice but Judith the bank owner becomes the Big Bad of Buster's story though she isn't nearly as malevolent as the Bears.
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: The squid.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The red pandas are actually speaking Japanese (albeit heavily accented). Buster later tries to talk to them in their language, but gets slapped for his efforts.
  • Bland-Name Product: The Roc supermarket Rosita shops at is a play on the Giant Eagle supermarket chain.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Some of the auditionees, such as the bunnies, Ray the snail, and Richard the buffalo, return to watch, cheer and sing along during the show at the end. Also, Pete the camel is in the group photo along with the other contestants at the Grand Re-Opening of the theater.
    • After Ash catches Lance with another singer and kicks them out, the other girl tries to go back in to get her sunglasses, but is stopped by Ash slamming the door. Later on, when she performs her song "Set It All Free", she puts on those very sunglasses. She also makes some killer alterations to the pop princess dress Buster keeps trying to push on her.
    • In their introductory scene, Ash and Lance are turned down for a gig because their punk-rock music is inappropriate for the venue (a tiki bar). Later on, after their breakup, Ash sees Lance and Becky performing at the very same venue.
  • Cardboard Prison: It takes Marcus less than a minute to escape prison, he doesn't even need to plan, he just used his Super Strength on a window's bars.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • One that doesn't take long to fire, but as he is speeding from the heist toward the rehearsal, Johnny causes two cars to collide with each other in what seems like a throwaway gag. When he tries to return to the spot where he is supposed to meet his father's gang, the cars are still there, their drivers are arguing with each other, and traffic is backed up so far that Johnny is unable to get back in time.
    • Numerous times early on in the film it's made clear either how dilapidated the theatre is, how Buster is cutting corners to try and keep things going, that he is pinning all his hopes on producing a successful show so as to support the restoration work, or that the place has not been made as up-to-code and stellar as he keeps claiming it is. Adding all this up, it isn't hard to guess something is going to go very wrong with the theatre but none of that can really compare to what an utter disaster its fate turns out to be.
    • Early on the viewers get to see a flashback of the opening gala night for the Moon Theatre, as well as a black-and-white photo of the event on Buster's office wall, showing him and his dad surrounded by the various stage crew and performers for the show. Later on there are also several shots where the singing contestants stand around Buster in a similar fashion, in some cases with their species lining up with those in the original photo. The film ends with the contestants and Buster's friends and benefactors recreating the picture in full, becoming another black-and-white photograph.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Nana Noodleman, the sheep songstress singing at Buster's backstory. She's Eddie's grandmother, and the one who ends up saving the theater.
    • Also the three Russian bears that go into the club that Mike is performing outside of. They seem inconsequential, until Mike eventually gets into the club and cheats them out of a lot of money in a poker game. Then they end up unwittingly causing the flooding and destruction of the Moon Theatre and the subsequent Darkest Hour.
  • Compliment Backfire: Buster cheerfully tells Nana Noodleman that she doesn't look "a day over 90".
  • Coordinated Clothes: The J-Pop red pandas all wear matching but differently-colored outfits.
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed; the film isn't without its humor and lightheartedness, but it's more grounded in reality and less zany compared to Illumination's prior works.
  • Darkest Hour: Twice.
    • The first one is focused on Rosita, Ash, and Johnny. Rosita can't manage to dance well in spite of Gunter's help and is close to giving up, Ash breaks up with her boyfriend after discovering he has cheated on hernote  and left her brokenhearted, and Johnny indirectly causes his father to get arrested, has I Have No Son! thrown at him and tries to steal the "$100,000" prize to pay his bail. Thankfully, they all rebound from it.
    • The second one is when the theatre is destroyed. Not only do the contestants have to go back to their lives, with Mike, Johnny and Ash having lost something along the way, but Buster, who until then was unfailingly optimistic and go-getter, is completely annihilated and just gives up on everything.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ash has a few moments of being this with Buster. Johnny also has a few moments.
  • December–December Romance: In the short Love at First Sight, after Miss Crawley's attempts at online dating fail, she meets an elderly lizard named Herman whom she hits it off with.
  • Diegetic Musical: The film has has nearly all of the songs take place on stage for a concert. The others are for auditions, and two characters sing to themselves in private.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The Moon Theatre's destruction. It's set off by the bears bringing their extra significant weight up on the glass stage, then by smashing the chest. The glass develops cracks, letting the water out in a huge cascade through the auditorium. Then because Meena becomes stuck in the ticket seller window, the water has nowhere to go, causing it to back up and flood the whole place, which only gets worse when the pressure makes the pipes themselves burst. Cue the collapse of pillars and balconies, and ultimately the entire theatre when Meena is eventually unstuck by Johnny and the water can escape.
  • Disco Dan: Some of the characters are fond of notably dated music. Mike is a prominent example.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Johnny confessing to his father Marcus that he was in the singing competition and Marcus initially rejecting him because of it can also be read as a Coming-Out Story. Especially since the song he performs at the climax of his arc is an Elton John cover.
  • Don't Think, Feel: This is Gunter's advice for Rosita in how to dance, feeling the music instead of trying to memorize the steps. She puts it into practice during the supermarket scene. It's also the advice Buster gives Meena, essentially, to help her get past her Stage Fright, and since the Aesop is one that underlies his whole raison d'etre in running the theatre, it's pretty much the heart and center of the movie.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: When we first see some police rhinos, they clearly have a box of donuts.
  • Double Take: When Eddie is near the outside gate of his his grandmother's house to visit her, he suddenly gets a phone call from Buster, where he comments on the jacket Eddie's wearing. Eddie says "Oh, thanks", before realizing he's talking on the phone. That's when he realizes Buster is standing right next to him.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: According to her voice actor, this is Rosita's character arc. She wants her dreams to be recognized, but her piglets aren't mature enough to take it seriously, and her Workaholic husband is too drained to give more than a halfhearted response.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • After Buster finds out about the typo that increased the prize money by 100, he doesn't blame Ms. Crawley for the mistake despite it kickstarting a new problem for the show.
    Buster: (exasperated at Ms. Crawley crying in remorse) For the last time, Ms. Crawley, I am not going to fire you!
    • Buster—not by the creditors, the bank, or the city and people at large (it takes the comeback show at the end to earn that, with some critical outside assistance), but by the contestants (sans Mike), who after The Reveal that the $100,000 was fake and the destruction of the theatre are only concerned about him, want to make sure he's all right, point out that at least they all survived unscathed, and still want to put on the show. One can guess that Ms. Crawley's presence among them means she explained about her error offscreen, but it's also likely simply seeing Buster's reaction in the ruins took a lot of the anger and resentment out of them. They also easily forgive him for how he acts during his Heroic BSoD, although since it's when he's once more enthused about doing the show which they had yearned to be a part of regardless of the money, they're likely too happy to perform to give it much thought. And Meena is such a kind person it makes sense she'd quickly forgive Buster for lashing out.
    • When Marcus breaks out of jail to tell his son how proud he is of him, Johnny is so happy that his father has accepted his aspirations that he willingly lets what happened during their previous meeting be water under the bridge.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All the main characters get a brief scene at the beginning of the movie introducing their situations before the plot starts.
    • Buster opens the film waxing eloquent about his love of Moon Theatre, which he emphasizes he has loved since childhood. He's then interrupted by a crowd of stagehands demanding to be paid and a representative from the bank is on the phone, showing that he's behind on his bills but also avoids talking to the bank. He then slips past them through a hole in the wall that's hidden behind a painting showing that the theatre isn't quite up to code.
    • Johnny is introduced in an alleyway, singing "The Way I Feel Inside" only to be interrupted by two cops walking by and his dad's gang crashing through the window of a bank they just robbed. He's chastised by his father for getting distracted on look-out duty and not wearing his mask. The scene serves to show Johnny's Gentle Giant status, and how it doesn't exactly coincide well in a Killer Gorilla gang.
    • Rosita's first scene shows her singing "Firework", particularly the "Do you ever feel like a plastic bag. Drifting through the wind, ready to start again" lyric, and her many children immaturely teasing her because of it. Norman comes downstairs, focusing more on his phone than his wife and kids, and halfheartedly praises her singing before telling Rosita the bathroom sink is backed up and leaving.
    • Ash and Lance are auditioning for a gig at a bar where they start competing for the spotlight with Ash getting so immersed in the music that she kicks her mic off the stage. When the bar owner turns them down, they leave and Lance coldly tells Ash that her enthusiasm is over the top and "ruins his songs", foreshadowing her potential that went untapped because of Lance.
    • Meena's opening scene is used to put emphasis on her sweet nature, beautiful singing voice, and very powerful stage fright. Said stage fright is so overpowering, in fact, that she even shows embarrassment after singing Happy Birthday to her grandpa in front of three family members. The scene also serves to establish her grandpa's rough, forceful but well-meaning attitude and his faith in Meena's abilities.
    • Mike enters the film showing off his enormous musical talent by playing his saxophone as a street musician. His egotistic character is then shown by his anger at being given less money than he thinks he deserves (though, to be fair, all he was given was a penny), and his ability to twist words around to make someone else seem like the bad guy.
    • Eddie Noodleman shares his Establishing Character Moment with Buster's second one. Their scene in the fancy restaurant shows that Buster knows the rough state the theatre is in but adheres to the phrase "for every cloud a silver lining" a little too much, and Eddie's family has a long history of funding failed shows. Meanwhile, Eddie himself has been playing The Lancer to Buster for a while, and immediately shoots down the idea of a singing competition being a success.
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: The glass stage full of bioluminescent squid breaks when the bears smash the chest open to get the prize money, causing the theater to flood and eventually collapse.
  • Explosive Breeder: Rosita has 25 kids, all around the same age (appears to be 6 or 7 years old). Truth in Television, since in real life pigs can produce litters that are quite large.
  • Expressive Ears:
    • Buster has big koala ears that droop a bit when he gets depressed over the destruction of the theater.
    • Mike's ears perk upwards when he is amazed.
    • Rosita's usually perked up ears droop when Buster says that he wrote in his notes on her audition that she was "boring to watch"
    • Meena's elephant ears are perpetually folded inwards due to her timidity. However, they fold outwards when she becomes more confident in singing in front of other people.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Buster resorts to washing cars after the theater collapses and the property is seized by the bank.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Johnny tries to hide his love of music from his father Marcus, who pushes Johnny to participate as a lookout and a getaway driver in the heists Marcus' gang of gorillas commits. After Johnny misses a heist (due to having to practice for the show) and inadvertently causes Marcus to be arrested, Marcus dismisses Johnny as a failure and a disappointment. He has a change of heart though, when he sees Johnny performing on the broadcast of the talent show, and realizes that Johnny has a natural talent and passion for music. Regretting the cruel words he said to Johnny earlier, Marcus breaks out of prison and shows up at the theater to reconcile with his son, apologizing and telling Johnny how proud he is of his son.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: While most of the contestants are friendly with each other from the beginning, through the trials of trying to put on a show they become as close as family.
  • Flat Character: Pete is the only one of the finalists who doesn't have a storyline. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't make it to the actual performance.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Johnny the gorilla is faced with this dilemma. His father wants him to join the gang, but Johnny just wants to sing.
  • The Foreign Subtitle: In Brazil, the film is known as "Sing - Quem Canta Seus Males Espanta". The subtitle is a common Brazilian idiom which translates to "those who sing scare away their demons". In Argentina, the film was released as "Sing - ¡Ven y Canta!". The subtitles means "Come and sing!" in English.
  • For Want of a Nail: It's never outright stated, but it's heavily implied that what Buster really needed was someone to help manage his finances. For as good a showman as Buster is, and as good a job he does managing and inspiring his performers, he just can't keep the books balanced. Had he delegated those responsibilities to someone competent, he likely never would have found himself in the situation at the movie's start.
  • Four-Legged Insect: The cephalopod variant - the bio-luminescent squids have four arms each.
  • Fully Dressed Cartoon Animal: The entire cast, except for the invertebrate background characters (shrimps, spiders, snails, squids) who qualify as Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal instead.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While the reporter is interviewing the hippo, a bear can be seen picking his nose before realizing he is on camera.
    • As Rosita comforts Ash, she leaves her purse behind when going on stage for rehearsal and tells Ash to help herself to any gum or candy in there. When Rosita returns and is arguing with Gunter, Ash is chewing gum and even blowing bubbles.
    • When Eddie closes the curtain after Gunter and Rosita's performance, Ms. Crawly is drumming on Johnny's back with drumsticks.
  • Funny Foreigner:
    • A J-Pop Girl Group of red pandas who can only speak Japanese, which is very clearly inspired by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu as the two songs they perform ("Kira Kira Killer" and "Ninja Re Bang Bang") are covers of them.
    • Gunter, the Fat Comic Relief pig, speaks with a distinct German accent.
  • Funny Octopus: Theater manager Buster Moon hires two hundred deep-sea squid to add their bio-luminescence to his stage and backdrop to create a living light show. Of course, Buster soon learns why it's a bad idea to enclose several thousand gallons of water with ordinary window glass.
  • Furry Confusion: All of the squids are mutes. Except during the credits.
  • Furry Female Mane:
    • Averted with Rosita, played straight with Meena who has tiny pigtails on top of her head.
    • Inverted with Richard, the male buffalo with brown fur and a black pompadour.
  • "Gaining Confidence" Song: Meena is a painfully shy elephant with a gorgeous singing voice. When it's time for her on-stage debut, she freezes up before slowly starting to sing "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing". Her performance is initially slow and almost ballad-like, but as she sees the crowd enjoying it, her pace picks up and she gains more confidence to sing louder and more passionately until she literally brings the house down by collapsing the wall behind her with her jumping and powerful voice. But instead of suffering from stage fright from this mishap, she simply shrugs it off and continues singing to thunderous applause.
  • Gasshole: Richard, the buffalo who auditions with "Butterfly", is initially among the auditionees put through by Buster, but is let go when he turns out to fart too much.
  • Getaway Driver: Johnny's dad wants him to be this for a heist. The trouble is that it conflicts with the singing auditions.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: The flood pushes Meena into the ticket booth window, and the force of the water got her stuck inside it and caused the water inside the theater to build up. Rosita and Gunter tried to get her unplugged but they were unsuccessful until Johnny helped out; if it weren't for him, Meena would have drowned.
  • Heroic BSoD: Buster has one after the Moon Theatre collapses.
  • Hey, Let's Put on a Show: The film's central conflict.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Rosita manages to build an elaborate contraption from things lying around her house to take care of her piglets while she's away at rehearsals. It works so well none of her children or her husband appear to notice that she's not actually there.
    • Mike is an insufferable jerk and incredibly confident in his skills, but he eventually realizes that he really does want to be recognized for his music, with or without the prize, and is capable of acknowledging that other people can be great singers too.
    • Buster is a bit shady, what with how he sinks to stealing water and electricity from the neighbouring buildings, writes paychecks that bounce, and keeps putting off talking to the bank representative through various excuses. He also takes Eddie out to dinner at a fancy restaurant he can't afford (and brings sandwiches instead) and deceives people about the prize money. But he's still trying to find the prize money, and his sole motivation seems to be producing great entertainment, saving his theatre, and helping people express their passion and talents because of his love of music and the theatre, as well as to make his dad proud.
  • Husky Russkie: The bears that Mike runs afoul of all have Russian accents.
  • Hypocrite: Lance goes to the auditions, but when only Ash is selected, he immediately decides that entering the contest would be selling out. Then, when Ash complains about Buster trying to change her image, he tells her to go along with it if she wants to win, apparently feeling she's not selling out enough.
  • Idle Rich: Eddie. He doesn't have a job because his family is extremely wealthy, and the only reason why Buster's theater wasn't shut down years before was because Eddie's family funded his shows, but had since decided not finance another of Buster's flops. The only time he's seen doing anything that resembles work was when he decided to help Buster wash cars during his Heroic BSoD and at the end when he was in charge of the background music and lighting.
  • I Have No Son!: Johnny the gorilla's father's basic reaction when Johnny admits he doesn't want to join the gang.
    Marcus: How'd I end up with a son like you, eh? You're nothing like me. You never were, and you never will be!
  • Informed Flaw:
    • According to everyone, including Buster himself, the shows put on at his theatre are never any good. Yet, when he's working on the singing competition he proves to have an eye for talent, works with the contestants the exact way a good manager should, and his Executive Meddling proves to benefit their acts. Then, his comeback show manages to impress Nana Noodleman, and this was when he was working in a mostly destroyed theatre with amateur (but undeniably talented) singers.
    • A more downplayed example; After Johnny performs "All Of Me" while playing the piano (which he hadn't played since he was a kid), Buster reacts to his playing as though it were atrocious. But from what we see, aside from a few sour notes, his playing was decent.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Buster leaves his bicycle with the valet at the fancy restaurant, claiming "It may look old, but it's a classic". Before he even enters the restaurant the bike falls apart, leaving the valet holding the handlebars while the rest of the bike lies on the ground.
  • Irony: Buster repeatedly fails to convince the J-Pop Red Pandas that they weren't selected as contestants, but when he finally decides to add them to the show after the Boy Band frogs can't get their act together his poor choice of phrases from a Japanese-English phrasebook unwittingly insults them, resulting in one of them slapping his face and all leaving in a huff.
  • It's All About Me:
    • During rehearsals, Gunter watches Rosita trip and fall on her face and then when Buster asks "Are you okay?", assumes the koala must be talking to him. Although with the context of the scene, it can also be read as him trying to defuse the atmosphere.
    • Mike has shades of this; he is so confident he's going to win the singing competition (and the "$100,000" prize) that he near-constantly trash-talks the other acts and takes out a massive loan to buy a high-end car to impress Nancy. In his defence he's an excellent performer, singing Frank Sinatra's "My Way" with a helicopter circling above him.
    • Ash's boyfriend Lance, who insists on being the lead singer and songwriter of their band despite Ash's obvious talent, and will stop any song or quit any gig when it seems like she'll get more attention than him. When she gets picked for the singing competition instead of him, he tries to pressure her to quit since he's not the one in the spotlight. Later, he cheats on Ash with another girl porcupine because Ash was "never around," despite the fact that she was working to win $100,000 for both of them. Ash calls him out on it.
  • It's the Same, So It Sucks: Discussed In-Universe; After Buster decides to put on the singing competition, Eddie's response is "Who wants to see another one of those?". Buster argues that the reason why singing competions always work is that there's real talent that comes from real life and it gives anybody a chance at being a star.
  • Jerkass: Mike, who enters the contest strictly for the money, never bonds with the other contestants, and is openly rude and dismissive to them. He is eventually impressed by Meena's singing, but never offers any compliment or apologizes for his earlier rudeness (although the fact that he and his girlfriend had to run away from the Russian bears during the final performance might have had something to do with that).
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Judith from the bank is humorless and unfeeling towards Buster's dreams and feelings towards the theater. However, she makes two very good points.
      • First off, the theater's business has been so bad that Buster has been forced to steal electricity and water just for rehearsals. She's well within her rights to repossess it due to unpaid bills.
      • She's also legally correct in that the comeback performance is technically trespassing on bank property without permission.
    • As abrasive and arrogant as Mike is towards the others, there are moments where he's correct, albeit rudely. He has a point that Meena freezing up during the auditions is holding up the line for the other contestants, and he's the first to get angry at the revelation that Buster didn't tell the truth about the real prize money amount.
  • Jukebox Musical: The film boasts no less than 80 songs from The '40s to The New '10s, ranging from "Venus" to "Kiss from a Rose" to "Anaconda" though most are only one or two line snatches.
  • Karma Houdini: Played with for Mike. Although the movie ends with him on the run from the Russian Bear Mob for cheating at cards, he also got away with an impressive live television performance, a sports car bought with borrowed money that he probably won't repay, and a sexy female mouse who's proven herself to be a loyal companion. All things considered, he ended up rather well despite his Jerkass tendencies.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Two examples.
    • The three Russian bears who relentlessly hunt down Mike have absolutely no lighthearted tendencies to their names, and the mood plummets when they appear. Most noticeable when they barge into the theatre during the dress rehearsal with Mike in tow and demand Buster give them the one-hundred thousand dollars that Mike owes them. The casual way they threaten to murder Mike on the spot in broad daylight is chilling, and of course it's this confrontation that ends up ultimately destroying the theatre which leads to the biggest Darkest Hour of the whole film.
    • There's also Marcus, Johnny's father. Though not half as malicious as the bears, Marcus has very few comedic scenes, his crimes are not Played for Laughs and his I Have No Son! moment with Johnny is a clear showcase of how ruthless and cold he can be. Marcus lightens up significantly in the end when he escapes from prison to make amends with Johnny and he sheds his antagonistic role, but never completely loses his air of seriousness.
  • Large Ham: Gunter, no pun intended (by us; we can't speak for the author).
  • Leitmotif: "Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight" could be one for the Moon Theatre. It's heard during three key scenes in the film: the initial scene that clarifies how Buster fell in love with the theatre life, the aftermath of the Moon Theatre's destruction, and the final scene, in which Nana buys the Moon Theatre and has it restored to its former glory.
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: When Mike sees Rosita and Gunter performing on TV, he quickly laughs them off. Another viewer taunts him with this, which is enough for him to go back and actually sing.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: During the dress rehearsal, the bears' sudden arrival corresponds with the background music (Kanye West's "Flashing Lights") slowing to a crawl.
  • Liar Revealed: When the bears show up and demand the chest of prize money, Buster agrees to give them the chest, but the bears then demand that Buster open it. Buster tries to stave off revealing the prize money isn't $100,000 by saying he doesn't have the key, but the bears just smash the chest open with a baseball bat, revealing that the prize money isn't real. Mike then shouts that Buster lied (although to be fair, the typo on the flyer was Ms. Crawley's doing, Buster is only guilty of keeping this a secret, rather than outright telling a falsehood).
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the contestants don't change outfits for the whole movie until the final show. Johnny is never seen in clothes other than his leather jacket, jeans and green sweater. Buster is a more depressing case as it's implied that the red bowtie, blue blazer and slacks and white button-up are the only clothes he owns.
  • London Gangster: Johnny's dad leads a gang of gorilla bank robbers with prominent East End accents.
  • Lucky Translation: During the scene in which the pamphlets for the singing competition are being designed, Buster tells Mrs. Crawley to "spread the word", which ends up being done via the fan accidentally blowing away the pamphlets all over the town. It's even funnier in the Brazilian Portuguese dub, in which the term "espalhar aos quatro ventos" (literally "to spread through the four winds") is used.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Rosita gave up her budding career to care for 25 piglets.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "You know what's great about hitting rock bottom? There's only one way left to go, and that's up!"
    • Also, "Don't let fear get in the way of doing what you love."
    • "Dad, I'm just glad you're not here to see this." / "Dad, I just wish you were here to see this."
  • Messy Pig: Some of Rosita's children can be sloppy. Justified due to their age.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: Johnny is at rehearsal instead of readying the getaway car which is what lands his father and his gang in prison.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The opening starts with a young Buster being introduced to the theater.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: The prize money was advertised as one hundred times the intended amount.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Johnny's dad, who originally told him I Have No Son!, is impressed when he sees him performing on T.V and proudly declares him his son, before immediately remembering what he said before and becoming sad over it. He breaks out of jail just to apologize to Johnny and tell him how proud of him he is.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: After some of Buster's initial chosen acts drop out of the show, he decides to give the Japanese red panda Girl Group another chance, and tries telling them so in Japanese... only to get slapped as the red pandas storm off.note 
  • The Napoleon: Mike, who is a greedy and arrogant mouse.
  • Nearly Normal Animal: The squid butlers who light up the stage.
  • National Animal Stereotypes:
    • Red pandas (animals native to China) are portrayed as a Japanese girl group.
    • Brown bears appear to be Russian gangsters.
    • Overall averted. Buster is played by an American, not an Australian, and the Gorillas have English accents, not African.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers make it look like Mike is some kind of criminal or bad guy, when he's actually just a greedy street musician who gets into trouble after he joins the auditions.
    • The trailers made Rosita's husband, Norman, seem like a neglectful husband, when in reality, he's just a workaholic and he really does care for his family.
  • No Antagonist: Despite having several subplots that tie into one main plot, this film does not seem to have any specific Big Bad.
  • No Cartoon Fish: Zigzagged. While there are shrimps who try out and squids who swim around in the tanks, finned animals are only briefly glimpsed during the scene where Buster is riding his bicycle (a whale with a hat swims under a bridge, and fish are seen swimming up a waterway on a stairway), and none of them have a major or supporting role.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Averted. The animal bodies are shaped like animals, male or female.
  • Not This One, That One: When Buster is making a big speech to Eddie about why he has a bucket in his office, the sheep thinks he is talking about the one they use to catch water from the leaking roof. Buster points out the actual bucket for that, then points to the one he meant and goes on with his story.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Buster's reaction when he learns that his singing contest has been advertised with a hundred grand cash prize - money he does not have.
    • Also, the collective reaction of those attending the dress rehearsal for Nana Noodleman when they look at the glass panels of the giant fish tank and realize that it's cracking right under their feet.
  • Only One Name: Played with; while surnames are given for some characters (Buster Moon, Miss Crawley, the Noodlemans), most of the characters are only ever addressed by their first name — Mike, Rosita, Ash, Johnny, Meena, Gunter, Lance, Stan, etc. This becomes noticeably cumbersome when Buster introduces characters for the next upcoming act.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: A subversion of the red panda variety with the hopeful Japanese girl group, but none of the standard black-and-white giant pandas, save one briefly glimpsed inside one of the cars at Buster's car wash.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The gang Johnny's father (all gorillas) runs wear bunny masks during heists. Tiny, look-like-they-were-cut-from-a-paper-plate masks. Johnny is chastised for not wearing his, and pulls one on when he goes to steal the money from Moon's office.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Ash takes a pair of scissors to the hemline of the "pop princess" dress Buster tries to make her wear, winding up with an especially badass glittering accessory to her red leather jacket in her final performance.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Johnny's father is strong enough to tear the wall of his prison cell down with his bare hands, but because he knows he'll just be captured again, he has no reason to until he decides to make amends with his son, that is.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • When creating the publicity flyers for the competition, Ms. Crawley's glass eye falls out and hits the keyboard, advertising a $100,000 grand prize instead of the intended $1,000. Ms. Crawley doesn't check to see if there's no typos before printing them out and retrieving her glass eye. Buster also doesn't get a chance to look at the flyers before the fan blows them out the window and throughout the city. This means that they don't find out about the mistake until after the auditions are over. Then Buster decides to keep the contestants in the dark about it instead of confessing they typo because he thinks that he can somehow get a hundred grand together in time. This leads to several more problems down the line.
    • When Meena returns home after an attempt to reaudituon failed, she discovers a crowd of neighbors and her family waiting for her. When her grandfather asks if she made it into the show, she admits that she "sort of" has a role. But before she can explain that Buster made her the stagehand, they all cheer for her thinking that she got an act. Then when she tries to explain the truth, her mother makes her promise not to speak at home in order to save her voice and only nod or shake her head. Unlike the prize money typo, however, it doesn't cause much problems; Meena does end up in the show after Pete ends up in the hospital, and presumably her family never found out about her being the stagehand.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Judith, the alpaca from the bank. Also Johnny.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Johnny races across the city to the theater for an exhibition performance, zig-zagging through the traffic like a maniac and forcing other cars to take evasive action. When he attempts to get back to the harbor to help his father's gang escape, he hits a traffic jam caused by a car that crashed dodging him on his way to the theater.
    • Buster tries to show off a squid performance inside his broken down, worn-out theater by creating a makeshift fish tank reinforced with nothing but fragile plate glass windows. The whole tank shatters and nearly drowns all the singers after too much weight is applied to it. Shortly after, the entire theater collapses.
    • One of the contestants is a giraffe. Because he's so tall, he can't hear Buster (and vice versa) even though the latter is using a megaphone... so Buster dismisses him and picks Johnny instead.
    • Not paying your bills, or any other sort of monetary debt, will catch up to you sooner or later. Also, betting your entire future on what you believe is a sure thing is incredibly risky which will most likely result in huge disappointment and financial ruin, which happened to Buster after his dilapidated theater collapsed and the bank repossessed the property. Bodily harm can also be a result, like Mike who was so sure he would win the non-existent $100,000, he scammed that amount from the bear gang, without having the money to back it up, and almost got eaten several times as a result.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Subverted with Ash. She wears what appears to be a plaid skirt for most of the movie, but doesn't appreciate Buster's assumption that she'll enjoy being in a frilly pink dress because she's a teenage girl. Her final performance has her in a Pimped-Out Dress with a leather jacket on top.
  • Red Herring: Pete. He's among the contestants Buster picks for rehearsals, but he's later knocked unconscious in an accident involving Ms. Crawley's glass eye, having to go to the hospital. This also applies to the trio of frogs, as while Buster initially picked them as a group act, they break up due to two of them complaining that the third is an "intolerable egomaniac".
  • Rock is Authentic, Pop is Shallow: Buster tries to make punk rocker Ash into a pop princess, giving her the peppy "Call Me, Maybe" to sing. Ash resents this, so for the final performance she sings her own song instead, the personal, hard rocking "Set It All Free", and brings down the house.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Rosita builds one to take care of home in her stead. See Hidden Depths.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • After Meena fails her first audition, she kicks a nearby tree, causing all of the leaves to fall out. When she passes the tree after the theater is destroyed and the show is cancelled, she sees that new leaves have started to sprout.
    • When Meena's singing literally brings down the house near the end of the show, instead of a regular open-air stage with the theatre's signature crescent moon the audience (both in-story and out) is left with a view right into the clear night sky, with a full moon front and center.
    • Following from the above, after being rebuilt the theatre is rechristened at the end as the New Moon Theatre.
  • Running Gag:
    • Ms. Crawly's glass eye constantly popping out of her socket. "Has anyone seen my glass eye?"
    • The red pandas constantly show up and start dancing.
    • Ash's quills flying off her body.
    • Ms. Crawly's inability to deliver a drink without messing it up.
    • Nana's glare and accompanying sung Scare Chord
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Buster fails to notice Ash's disapproval when he asks her to sing "Call Me Maybe".
    Buster: "You're a female and you're a teenager. This song was made for you!"
    Ash: "Wow! It's like you can see inside my tiny teenage mind!"
    Buster: "I know, right?"
    • It is also implied that he's just pretending to be this, so he can get what he wants without getting into an argument (or he only understands It in certain situations). In the scene where he asks for Nana's support, he seems to clearly get Eddie's sarcasm.
    Nana: "...And that theater of yours... It was a palace of wonder... and magic..."
    Buster: "But Nana, It's still is..."
    Eddie: "Yeah, right!"
    Buster: "*nudges Eddie*"
  • Shaking the Rump: The bunny trio do this twice, once as part of their song and again during the final performance.
  • Shrinking Violet: Meena the elephant is one of these, at least when it comes to singing in front of other people.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Judith's arrival is heralded by a few pan flute notes from Once Upon a Time in America.
    • Several of the shots during the destruction of the theatre are rather reminiscent of Titanic (1997). When the water first bursts through the backstage area resembles a similar iconic moment in one of the ship's hallways, and when the contestants struggle up above the water near the top of the auditorium and are clinging to pillars around the chandelier, it's quite similar to the passengers below the ship's Grand Staircase dome.
    • The female porcupine that Lance cheats on Ash with is named Becky.
    • Nana's introduction, butler, and the design of her mansion bring to mind Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard.
    • Meena's grandfather is dressed like Babar.
  • The Show Must Go On: The final number is full of this:
    • When Judith unplugs Ash's guitar and orders the show to stop, Ash just takes it as the chance to rally the public and start her song unplugged.
    • Next song, when a police chopper threatens to blow him away, Mike fights against the winds so he can finish his song, which gets him to realize he really does love music more than the money.
    • In the last song, when Meena's act literally brings the house down, she takes less than a second's pause to look at the ruined stage, then keeps singing as if nothing had happened, with the night sky and the moon as her backdrop.
  • The Show Must Go Wrong: All of the bad decisions throughout the movie converge at the special dress rehearsal for Nana, which ends with the entire theater in ruins.
  • Sneeze of Doom: Miss Crawley sneezes and blows tea in Nana's face.
  • The Song Remains the Same:
    • Zig-zagged in the Japanese dub: Rosita sings exclusively in English, since her voice actress is fluent in that language, but everyone else sings Japanese covers of the Western songs, rather than leaving their original songs in English with their original singers, probably for the sake of consistency. Oddly enough, the Japanese J-Pop-singing red pandas remain in Japanese without being dubbed over, despite most of the humor of that scene coming from Buster being unable to speak Japanese at all. Another odd scene in this dubbed version is when Ash sings along with Buster "Set It All Free" while rehearsing in English, despite the song itself being sung in Japanese when Ash plays it live.note 
    • Played mostly straight in the Mexican Spanish dub, when all the songs remain in English (with the sole exception of Ash's "Set It All Free") despite most of the cast consisting of professional singers as well, and totally straight in the Spaniard dub, where all the songs remain.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: Parodied. Buster calls Eddie when the latter is on his way to visit Nana Noodleman, and they are shown in split screen. However, Buster suddenly comments on the jacket Eddie is wearing, and the split in the screen disappears to reveal to both Eddie and the audience that they are standing right next to each other.
  • Stage Mom: One of the auditionees is a little female kangaroo who comes in her mother's pouch. After Buster chooses his acts, the mother kangaroo reassures her daughter that she will still be a star. For a kid, the girl is pretty good...
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Buster pulls this twice on Eddie, first when he suddenly appears at the side of Eddie's pool while he's swimming, and then popping up next to him while he's visiting Nana.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • A trio of "buns" (rabbits) sing a song about "buns".
    • While searching for Johnny's dad, one of the cops flying on a helicopter is a pig.
  • Stock Scream: The Wilhelm scream is heard when Ray the Snail is crushed underneath Richard's foot.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Rosita's mornings are so predictable that she builds a Rube Goldberg contraption that takes care of all 25 kids, sends them to school, and tells her husband where his keys are, and it works for all of the rehearsals.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Averted for Ash, who looks almost indistinguishable gender-wise from her boyfriend and fellow porcupine, Lance. Lampshaded by Buster at one point, who asks which one is the girl. Her "very funny" response implies they get this a lot. (It helps that she dresses in a very tomboyish manner.)
    • Downplayed for Rosita, the House Wife pig. While she has slightly longer eyebrows and bigger Hartman Hips than the two male adult pigs in the movie, she doesn't have any other overtly feminine visual markers (makeup, accessories, girly clothes, etc) to slap the audience in the face with her femaleness.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Invoked, though the humor doesn't come from poor performances so much as the incongruous juxtaposition of each artist with their chosen material (a snail singing Ride like the wind, for example). The majority of acts end up being quite good with a few just being silly despite the goodness and only a handful being outright bad.
  • Time Passes Montage: A very short one showing the line of auditions outside the theater taking all day to shrink. Also played with when the ending shows the Theater being rebuilt from scratch, however, none of Rosita's piglets grow in size so it must have still been a short time overall.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Downplayed example (at first)—Buster keeps the bucket his father used to wash cars not as a memorial so much as a reminder of all of the hard work and sacrifice his father put into supporting Buster's dreams. But after the theatre collapses and he finds it buried in the rubble, it becomes a genuinely heartbreaking example, as he feels he has failed his father as well as himself. It's also what he uses when he's forced to go into washing cars himself, but here it becomes more positive again once Eddie joins him.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Several of the key dramatic points of the movie, such as the conflict between Johnny and his father are spoiled by the third trailer, as are parts of the final show (particularly Rosita's).
  • Trying Not to Cry: Ash while singing "Call Me Maybe" and remembering her boyfriend cheating on her the previous night. She fails.
  • Vague Age: Some of the contestants are ambiguous when it comes to their age. None of them are seen attending school, the existence of which is demonstrated by Rosita's piglets getting on a school bus. Ash is called a "teenager" but seems to live without parents and is looking for work with her boyfriend until they broke up, so she is probably around 18 or 19. Johnny lives with his father but is designed to look and sound like a young adult. Furthermore, when his father goes to prison, there is no mention of child services or social workers. Meena lives with her maternal relatives and acts like a younger teenager (13 to 16), but a picture held up by someone at a party suggests she has graduated from high school. Furthermore, Meena's singing ability surpasses what is normally expected from an adolescent.
  • Visual Pun: Mike, who has a penchant for Frank Sinatra songs and other 1960's songs, is a mouse. Frank Sinatra was also a member of the Rat Pack, an informal term for a group of musicians (including Dean Martin) he was a part of.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mike, an actual mouse, ends the movie owing $100,000 to both a bank and the Russian Bear Mafia. It's actually quite literal here; Mike exits the movie still in danger, and never returns, not even for the "happy ending" photo. Although now that the Moon Theatre is being funded by an extremely wealthy former musical star, and his performance, Mike can work off his debts.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Johnny comes very close to burglarizing the chest where the "prize money" is, but changes his mind when he sees Buster's notes on his profile - namely, the "Natural born singer" part.
  • Win the Crowd: In-Universe with the final performance. At the beginning, only Rosita's family, Meena's family, a couple of passerby, and a local newscrew made up the crowd. After Gunter and Rosita's perform Shake It Off, everyone realized that the show is much better than anyone predicted, so more animals, either the ones who were walking nearby or watching the show on TV, began to show up to see it live. By the time Meena performs the final act, the place is completely packed. The show ends up restoring the theater's popularity and impresses Nana to the point where she buys the Moon Theatre’s property, rebuilds it to it's former glory, and gives it back to Buster.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change: Buster invokes this metaphorically when he waxes eloquent to Ms. Crawley regarding the show and what it will do for his and everyone else's lives... then it becomes literal as the wind blows in the open window, scattering the contest flyers all over the city and, through various contrivances, brings them to each of the main characters previously introduced.
  • World of Funny Animals: All animals are anthropomorphic in this world, from gorillas and chickens to snails and shrimp. Still, nearly all named characters are mammals.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: While it makes sense for the news station to cover the debut of Buster's talent show (which is particularly newsworthy after the destruction of the theater), there's no justification for them to broadcast it in its entirety. Even assuming there were absolutely no other newsworthy events anywhere that evening, the lack of commercial interruptions makes no sense whatsoever. Especially given there should have been breaking news over Marcus' escape from jail mid-show as he rushed to make amends. There was a manhunt on but the show was still airing.


Video Example(s):


"I'm Still Standing"

Johnny's performance is a rendition of Elton John's "I'm Still Standing." Especially ironic considering the actor -- Taron Egerton -- would go on to play Elton John in Rocketman.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoverVersion

Media sources:

Main / CoverVersion