Saturday, August 1, 2015

As buoyant and bug-eyed as all things "Glee"

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About the movie
Glee the 3D Concert Movie
Genre:
Musical
MPAA rating:
PG
for thematic elements, brief language and some sensuality
Running time:
01:40
Release date:
2011
Rating:
Cast:
Mark Salling; Kevin McHale; Lea Michele; Naya Rivera; Dianna Agron; Chord Overstreet; Chris Colfer; Heather Morris; Cory Monteith; Darren Criss
Directed by:
Kevin Tancharoen

You loved the TV show. You downloaded all the music. You went to the sold out arena tour. Now thrill to Glee The 3D Concert Movie.

The Fox TV phenomenon is the Lewis & Clark of discovering new revenue streams. And this big-screen iteration is just as buoyant and bright-eyed as the rest of the franchise.

The opening number, fittingly, is "Don't Stop Believin'," the rock boulder that got the whole Glee landslide rolling. It's breathlessly followed by nearly two dozen more songs that have popped up on the TV series.

Most of the vocal tracks and backing arrangements are prerecorded. And some of the cast (Lea Michele) are better at lip-synching than others (Naya Rivera). But even if the music is canned, it still sounds remarkably fresh.

The choreography for the 14-member main troupe is rudimentary. Most of the time, they do-si-do on stage, content just to not step on each other's toes.

The principals with actual dance training - Heather Morris and Harry Shum Jr. - stand out like deer in a bison herd.

It's not surprising that the most visually exciting number in the film, "I'm a Slave 4 U," features Morris' Brittany getting her Britney on. That's because it looks like a big pop-production number.

Part of Glee's charm has always been its innocent amateurishness, its just-folks aura. The live show clings to that conceit - with some pyrotechnics thrown in.

The camera work is fantastic, although the sequences flaunting the 3-D spatial effects may unsettle your stomach.

Interwoven with the concert footage are mini-profiles of three rabid if unconventional fans, including Janae Meraz, a real-life high school Cheerio who stands four feet tall. These fan vignettes try to frame Gleeks as a big tribe of misfits who gain therapeutic value and a sense of community from watching the show.

The cast stays in character throughout the film, both on and backstage. With one notable exception: At the start of "Safety Dance" (from one-hit wonders Men Without Hats), Artie (Kevin McHale) jumps up from his wheelchair and starts capering vigorously.

You have to wonder what the producers thought they were gaining by shattering the illusion so capriciously. Especially since Artie stays in his chair throughout his other big showcase, Michael Jackson's "PYT."

However vibrant and eclectic the playlist, a nonstop cavalcade of songs would likely fade like a sugar buzz. So Glee 3D packs a pair of booster rockets that ignite at just the right times.

The first is a medley by Blaine (Darren Criss) and the Warblers. His rousing rendition of Pink's "Raise Your Glass" is one of the film's musical highlights.

And the second bonus . . . well, I don't want to spoil the surprise. Let's just say a certain language substitute teacher returns.

Like all things Glee, this concert film is a deceptively slick package. And a diabolically clever way to pick your pocket once again. Don't forget to buy the soundtrack.


Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand

at 215-854-4552 or dhiltbrand@phillynews.com.

Read his pop-culture blog

at www.philly.com/dod.

 

Inquirer TV Critic
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