The kids from New Directions take the show on the road in Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, which, as the title implies, is mostly concert footage and senselessly in 3D.
Performed on a stage and shot fairly traditionally, this is perhaps the most useless 3D I’ve seen recently, though I will say that it doesn’t get in the way of what you’re watching.
The tour, at least as it’s portrayed here, is kind of a Brady-family-on-the-road deal. There are a few comedy bits (and I suspect more in the live show than we see on screen) but mostly it’s just everybody singing, in character. So — spoiler alert for those not caught up on last season — Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) are together, so are Puck (Mark Salling) and Lauren (Ashley Fink) and also, sort of, Rachel (Lea Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith). Substitute teacher Holly Holliday (Gwyneth Paltrow) shows up to say “hola, clase.” Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) does some dancing, often while Artie (Kevin McHale) is doing the singing. Brittany (Heather Morris) does her best Britney. Mercedes (Amber Riley) belts a few out, on one occasion joined by Santana (Naya Rivera) to recreate their duet. Quinn (Dianna Agron) gets a song in the spotlight. Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) are present, though if they had any big moments they didn’t stick with me. And Blaine brings his Warblers in for a few songs.
Those Warblers songs in particular remind me of what has bugged me increasingly about the show, which is that many episodes feel like a series of solos with none of the fun of some of those early group efforts, like the cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is reenacted here and melted away some of my Scrooginess. In fact I went in prepared to suffer for the entire 100 minutes, but the charm of that performance won me over and reminded me why that first episode of the show was such a joy.
Moments of charm, a delightfully wicked sense of humor and occasional messages of “it gets better” — these are the best parts of Glee the TV show. This core mission seems to have been less a part of the show in the past season as it focused more on the inner life of Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the romantic woes of Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and episodes that were all about letting everybody sing a different Madonna song. (Neither adult appears here, at least not anywhere before the credits; I may have liked the movie but not enough to stick around post-credits.) There was a curdling of the main teen characters as well — Rachel, Finn and Quinn all became unbearable to watch (the same could be said of Kurt at times, though his love story with Blaine was sweet in spite of how weirdly paced it was — longing, longing, longing, Iloveyouwe’retogether!).
The movie returns the focus to the kids. Most of the songs are from the “students,” and documentary-style segments that run between the songs feature real-life Glee fans talking about how the show helped them deal with high school. On the one hand there’s something crass about being told over and over that a TV show helped make life better for them. On the other hand, I simply couldn’t help finding these kids sweet and their stories genuine.
Begrudgingly, regretfully even, I found myself liking all this Glee-ness. I liked it even though, yes, like the show, the movie did feature several numbers that were just solos by one or two characters accompanied by a few dancers — Rachel’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” Mercedes and Santana’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” Artie’s “Safety Dance.” These moments were so joyous on the show that reliving slightly flatter versions on the big screen was still, surprisingly, kind of electrifying.
This is definitely a fan’s movie. If you don’t like the show, I have to imagine that sitting through the movie would be kind of unbearable. But the delightful surprise is that if you did like the show but haven’t been sure of it lately, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie can remind you of why you ever wanted to be a Gleek in the first place. B
Rated PG for thematic elements, brief language and some sensuality. Directed by Kevin Tancharoen, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox.