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Opening Dec. 21 in time for the holiday, “Sing” is the latest animated release from Illumination Entertainment, the studio best known for introducing Minions to the world. And like the studio’s “The Secret Life of Pets” from earlier this year, animals once again take center stage, literally.

“Sing” introduces showman Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), a charismatic koala with big dreams to revive the aging theater his father gifted him. He gets the idea to feature a talent contest in the vein of “American Idol,” but when his assistant, Miss Crawly, accidentally misprints the prize money as $100,000 rather than $1,000, talented animals flock to the theater for auditions. Standouts are a frustrated housewife, a pig named Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon); a lounge-singing mouse named Mike (voiced by Seth MacFarlane); a punk-rocking porcupine named Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson); and a gorilla named Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton) trying to escape his dad’s criminal aspirations.

I was recently able to see a free preview of this movie, and the best thing about it is its diversity of music, just as the characters themselves are diverse. There are plenty of laughs — some slapstick, some not — and a theme of family running underneath it all.

So, what should parents know before they head to the theater?

There are some heavy themes that may or may not go over little ones’ heads. Mike is a wise-cracking, sarcastic con man-type who cares more about winning than making friends. He cheats some angry gangster bears who spend part of the movie trying to kill him. Johnny’s father is the leader of a criminal gang and downright mean to Johnny in some scenes. There’s also some name-calling and insult language, mainly from Mike and Johnny’s father. Rosita also dresses scantily and performs to a suggestive routine. Buster lies to the contestants about the prize money, but all is OK in the end — which could be a mixed message for impressionable kids.

Overall, however, this is a movie geared to families, and it does have some good messages for young audiences. Of course, it promotes that following your dreams is a good idea, but working together is also important.

The bottom line: It’s not the greatest movie for kids when all is said and done, but you’ll probably enjoy at least one viewing for the musical performances alone. And unlike “The Secret Life of Pets,” which featured a short Minions film before the start of the movie, this one did not have a similar short — so don't go in expecting to see much of the little yellow guys.

"Sing" is rated PG  for some rude humor and mild peril. It releases nationwide Dec. 21.

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