Pop Idolatry Lives in ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’

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CHICAGO – Gleeks Unite! You have nothing to fear from “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie,” except the extra fee for those glasses. This film charms through it’s fabulous cast of singers and personalities singing jukebox hits.

It’s interesting to view the phenomenon with only a passing knowledge of the show itself. In that sense the proceedings take on a show-from-another-planet aspect, as to why these young singers are doing a glammed-up show like this, and why is one of them in a wheelchair? But the so-called “Gleeks” (ardent admirers of the Fox TV series) know the score, and will no doubt cheer this loving and explicit coverage of the Glee cast concert tour.

Basically this is a concert showcasing the vocal talents and interests of the performers and the characters they play on the show. The fourteen central cast members appearing are Dianna Agron (who plays Quinn Fabray), Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel), Darren Criss (Blaine Anderson), Ashley Fink (Lauren Zizes), Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams), Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson), Heather Morris (Brittany Pierce), Chord Overstreet (Sam Evans), Amber Riley (Mercedes Jones), Naya Rivera (Santana Lopez), Mark Salling (Noah “Puck” Puckerman), Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike Chang) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang). Gwyneth Paltrow takes on a song as her character Holly Holliday, but alas, no Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester), until the DVD version.

Kurt (Chris Colfer, left), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) Belt it Out in ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’
Kurt (Chris Colfer, left), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) Belt it Out in ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’
Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Films

Songs include (with their original artists) “Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey), “I’m a Slave 4 U” (Britney Spears), “P.Y.T.(Pretty Young Thing)”  (Michael Jackson), “Teenage Dream” (Katy Perry), “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (Barbra Streisand), “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (The Beatles) and “Forget You” (Cee Lo Green). It was a varied mix, with literally something for everyone, sung through the Glee filter.

The 3D was spectacular, and worth the extra money for fans. These personalities were “in the seats,” as they say, with some of them projecting out in eye-popping clarity. It would be disconcerting if you were a participant to see yourself in such a way, that’s how wild and weird the 3D effect was. On the other hand, it’s about the music, and a regular viewing would probably do just as well.

Instead of highlighting elements of the TV series, the film version opted to do some real-life Glee fan stories, and how the show has influenced their level of acceptance or tolerance. Outside the concert, admirers dish on why they love the show, and then the movie goes deeper. In three stories, one about a little person’s determination to be viewed as normal, another about a teen suffering from Asperger syndrome (a social anxiety disorder) and a gay teenager’s difficult coming out narrative, there are elements of the show’s message in real life. This was a good decision, for the fans will come for movie, and then live the messages. It was as if the producers felt that responsibility, and followed through.

Personally, I loved the renditions of “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” as sung by Lea Michele, whose crush on Barbra is properly honored. The version of modern pop also get some well done treatments, Katy Perry and Cee Lo Green will be cashing the checks for years to come. The surprising song was the old Ike & Tina Turner classic “River Deep, Mountain High,” given an amazing vocalization and reverential expression by Amber Riley and Naya Rivera.

Chris Colfer and Rachel (Lea Michele) Channel the Past in ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’
Chris Colfer and Rachel (Lea Michele) Channel the Past in ‘Glee: The 3D Concert Movie’
Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Films

The only strange choice was Kevin McHale’s Artie Abrams. In a wheelchair in the show, he does the concert in character, only to eschew the chair during (of all songs) “The Safety Dance” (originally sung by Men Without Hats). I would have chosen to have him maybe do the first number (Don’t Stop Believin’) in the chair and then the rest of the show without it. It just seemed like bad karma.

Bring the kids, bring grandmother, bring your second cousin, this is literally the concert for everybody, and can satisfy the Gleeks by putting their favorite cast members right on their laps, in severe close-up 3D. Sue Sylvester wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” opens everywhere August 12th. See listings for 3D showings. Featuring Dianna Agron, Lea Michele, Gwyneth Paltrow, Darrin Criss, Chris Colfer, Cory Monteith, Heather Morris, Kevin McHale. Directed by Kevin Tancharoen. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2011 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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