Pinocchio (2022, dir. Robert Zemeckis)

A marionette boy, if worthy, can become human. Another of Zemeckis’s CG/mocap/animation hi-tech but low-soul classic adaptations, this time a remake of the 1940 Disney classic. A few wrinkles, characters, and new songs are added, but no improvements, with some aspects toned down.

Here’s the trailer.

Sing 2 (2021, dir. Garth Jennings)

Buster Moon talks himself into trouble mounting a show in a Las Vegas-style resort. Dayglo jukebox animation sequel that doesn’t have the focus of the first flick, but nevertheless delivers jokes, visuals, and a musical palette from Mercury Rev to System of a Down via Prince, Billie Eilish, and The King and I. Something for everyone, pretty much.

Here’s the trailer.

Encanto (2021, dir. Jared Bush & Byron Howard, with Charise Castro Smith)

A Columbian family fractures when their magical powers weaken. Great-looking but derivative animation with too much tickbox Disney stuff, saddled with dull songs. Moments amuse, and the small scale gives focus, but there’s nothing here that Moana or Coco didn’t do ten times better.

Here’s the trailer.

Vivo (2021, dir. Kirk DiMicco with Brandon Jeffords)

A kinkajou quests from Cuba to Miami with a statement of long-held love. Bland animated musical comedy adventure. The songs are the movie’s weakest point: the movie looks great (Roger Deakins is listed as a consultant) and there’s some OK comic moments, but this is forgettable underwritten stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020, dir. David Dobkin)

No-hoper Icelandic childhood best friends dream of winning Eurovision. Ferrell adapts his sports comedy template to fit, with generally appealing results. While it’s overlong and needs more jokes, everyone’s having fun, the musical parodies are good, and there are plenty of in-jokes and guest appearances for the faithful.

Blue Story (2019, dir. Rapman)

London teens become inexorably drawn into turf warfare, and the violence that comes with it. Straightforward though vivid and confident debut, keenly balancing school and street, the ordinary world and the futility of revenge. Lots to admire, not least the use of music and fourth wall breaking throughout; writer-director Rapman is one to watch. Recommended.

Dreamgirls (2006, dir. Bill Condon)

An unscrupulous manager manipulates the careers of multiple music performers throughout the 60s and 70s. Awkward facsimile of the musical biopic subgenre adapted from a stage show. Some of it works (Eddie Murphy is great as a James Brown-ish blowhard) but too much is sketchy by-the-numbers genre pastiche material that doesn’t even have the benefit of actual period songs.

Cabin in the Sky (1943, dir. Vincente Minnelli)

A shot-dead gambler tries to redeem himself, as emissaries from Heaven and Hell agree on giving him a second chance. Minnelli’s first directorial feature is a wartime Faustian black-cast curio; both of its time (at best) in representational terms yet featuring great performances and musical sequences, it’s well-worth revisiting.

Frozen II (2019, dir. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)

Elsa and Anna have to leave Arendelle to find out the secret of Elsa’s powers and their family history. Overly-complicated sequel with OK though derivative songs, and reliance on goodwill from Part I to see things through. Some good moments, but second time around, this is no classic.

Top Hat (1935, dir. David Sandrich)

An identity mix-up complicates the lives of a dancer and a couturier’s muse, both visiting London. Charming and witty musical comedy with elements of screwball farce and a keen sense of knowing camp, with several dance sequences that have become iconic. A Depression-era fantasy, still effective as escapist nonsense of the highest order.