‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie'
Starring: Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Darren Criss
Rated: PG, for thematic elements, brief language and some sensuality
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Bottom line: A special treat for fans
The young cast members of "Glee" recently completed a concert tour, and now we get some limited chances to see their vacation slideshow. Although, I guess these days it would be their vacation vlog.
"Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" is a greatest hits package from the tour, which was itself a greatest hits package of the television show. The actors who play the high school students re-create on stage some of the most memorable musical numbers from the television series.
On one hand, it might have been nice to get some new material. But on the other hand, there's something to be said for a movie that gives us exactly what we expect.
The best things about "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" are, predictably, also the best things about "Glee" the television series.
The cast is insanely talented, and one number after another showcases what each one does best. In a subtle way, though, this movie separates the outrageously talented from the merely very talented among the "Glee" cast.
The numbers featuring Puck (Mark Salling), Artie (Kevin McHale), Finn (Cory Monteith) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) are all entertaining but not exceptional.
Every time Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer), Mercedes (Amber Riley), Santana (Naya Rivera) or Brittany (Heather Morris) takes the stage, however, the screen practically melts.
Rachel commands the entire arena all by herself on "Don't Rain on My Parade." Mercedes does the same on "Ain't No Way." Santana makes "Valerie" all her own, and on "I'm A Slave 4U," Brittany reminds us that she's probably the best dancer on television (surprisingly, she has a lot of competition these days).
Some of the duets are lights out, too. Rachel and Kurt barely break a sweat while tearing up "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy," and Santana and Mercedes inject new life into "River Deep, Mountain High."
The worst things about "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" are, predictably, the things that ruin many concert movies. The live audience's applause and cheering is cranked up to a distracting volume, and the movie indulges in too much self-glorification.
Woven into the concert sequences are profiles of "Glee" fans. Many brief fan interviews tell us how life-changing the show has been for some. Then the movie takes closer looks at three fans, one with Asperger's syndrome, another who was outed maliciously when he was in the eighth grade and a high school cheerleader who is a little person.
"Glee" has inspired all of them to accept themselves and take chances, which is great.
But these fan profiles risk making the show and cast seem self-important. We've seen this before. Just after the "Joshua Tree" album made U2 the biggest band in the world, their self-indulgent concert movie "Rattle and Hum" knocked them from that pedestal. Success had clearly spoiled the little band from Dublin. (They recovered, obviously.)
"Glee" has indeed influenced American culture, but the movie tells us ad nauseum how profound that impact has been. "Glee" is now flirting with both oversaturation and arrogance.
However, the fan profiles remind us of the show's central theme, acceptance. "Glee" has made it cool to be different, or at least it has inspired many teens not to care whether the privileged kids think they are cool or not.
Even if the movie overstates the show's influence, it's hard to criticize a series that preaches acceptance at a time when bullying is more abundant than compassion.
The 3-D, lo and behold, works for this movie. It adds a dimension to the choreography and gives a palpable sense of "being there."
Fans might be disappointed that Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) are completely absent. Morrison didn't go on the tour. Lynch filmed footage for the movie which was cut out of the final version.
Otherwise, "Glee" fans will love this. And that is the whole point.
Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.