Esther McCarthy reviews 'Sing Street' and 'Zootopia'.
Sing Street (12A) *****
Sing Street is a joy of a film, a richly detailed love letter to Dublin, to youth and to romance.
Like all of the best comedy and drama, it’s free of cynicism and true to the core, and you’ll identify with the dilemmas and banters its characters have. If there’s any justice, in years to come we’ll be enjoying repeat viewings with as much enthusiasm as we have for Irish classics like The Snapper and The Commitments.
Teenager Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, whose first film this is, is a revelation as Conor, a fifteen year old whose life is in a state of chaos. The constant rows at home suggest his parents (Maria Doyle Kennedy and Aidan Gillen) are headed for splitsville, while money problems mean he’s been moved from a fee-paying school to Synge Street.
The inner-city school run by the Christian Brothers is not a happy place. Their regimented ways have done little to prevent the rampant bullying that Conor quickly falls victim to.
But there is hope, in the form of the beautiful Raphina (Boynton) who lives opposite the school. They make a connection when she agrees to star in a music video for his band. Now all he has to do is actually set up a band. The story may sound formulaic, but the fact that it’s a little raw around the edges only adds to Sing Street’s charm.
Zootropolis (12A) ****
ANIMALS WEAR clothes, take big jobs in the city and live pretty much just like humans do in Zootropolis, the fun new animated offering from Disney.
Our main character is Judy Hopps, a small but very determined bunny rabbit who dreams of leaving her small town for the city and a career.
But city life is not easy and Judy initially struggles with settling in and getting along with her dismissive colleagues. She’s given a job as a parking attendant while the other officers are put on a ‘missing creatures’ case that has them baffled.
When Judy comes up with a lead in the case, opportunity finally beckons - but she’ll have to join forces with Nick Wilde, a sly, suave fox who may or may not be trustworthy.
There are no huge revelations or surprises, but the gags come fast, the story is busy and detailed enough to hold your attention and the animation is stunning. Best of all, the film’s core message - don’t stereotype - never comes across as preachy.