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Awesome: 7.14%
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2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Glee: The 3D Concert Movie
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by Peter Sobczynski

"It's The Same Old Song. . ."
2 stars

When "Glee" hit the airwaves in 2009, it was hailed by critics and audiences alike as a breath of fresh air in a medium otherwise dominated by shows involving cops, lawyers and paper dealers. This was a show filled with cutting humor, heartfelt sentiment, nice underlining messages about self-empowerment and believing in oneself and it even had a good beat that you could dance to thanks to a plethora of musical numbers running the gamut from old pop standards to current iPod favorites delivered by a bright, attractive and energetic cast that performed the seemingly impossible task of making glee club look hip and trendy as opposed to a dreaded outpost where delusional kids donned spangly vests and sang medleys that somehow tied together "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "You're The One That I Want." Throughout its first season, everything seemed to be going right for the show--it scored great ratings, received any number of awards and found the songs from its ever-expanding soundtrack selling in the millions--and it all culminated with a concert tour during the summer of 2010 that brought the excitement to thousands of fans across the world.

Alas, the trouble with being the fresh new thing one year is that when you return for seconds, that freshness is no longer there and you now have to live up to the nearly impossible expectations brought on by that initial success. The list of out-of-the-box hits shows that faltered in their second season is a long and depressing one--one of the most famous stumbles of all being the precipitous decline of the formerly hip "Miami Vice" into a five-o-clock-shadow of its former self--and "Glee" soon joined it with a season that had fans complaining that everything they liked about it was being shunted aside and being replaced with highly publicized theme episodes (including shows dedicated to Britney Spears and "Rocky Horror Picture Show" and yes, there is a difference), highly publicized guest stars (including a multi-episode arc that allowed Gwyneth Paltrow to demonstrate her questionable warbling abilities) and songs apparently chosen at random to fill out a seemingly endless array of tie-in CDs and EPs. By the time that the cast embarked on their second live tour earlier this summer, even the most dedicated Gleeks began to sense that the bloom was officially off the rose and what once felt like a victory lap now came across like a last-ditch effort to squeeze money out of the franchise before it began to decline any further. While I cannot say for certain whether the show itself will continue to go downhill or if it will manage to right itself and reconnect with the things that made it special in the first place, I can tell you that "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie," a film chronicling their recently concluded tour feels like nothing so much as a soulless cash grab, even more so thanks to the jacked-up ticket prices courtesy of the miracle of 3D, that only occasionally manages to disguise its essential hollowness with some traces of its former charm and energy.

Filmed during the tour's appearance at the Izod Center in New Jersey, the film features most of the cast of the show, all appearing in character, as they run through a grab bag of classic pop standards ("Don't Rain on My Parade," "Happy Days Are Here Again"), current hits ("Empire State of Mind," "Firework," "Born This Way," "Raise Your Glass") and oldies but goodies ("I Wanna Hold Your Hand," "River Deep-Mountain High," "Silly Love Songs" and, of course, "The Safety Dance"). The girls in the audience get to swoon as cute boy chorus The Warblers appear to do "Teenage Dream" and the boys (and dads dragooned into chaperoning) get to do much the same as saucy cheerleader Brittany (Heather Morris) grinds her lightly-clad way through a rendition of Britney Spears' "I'm A Slave 4 U." Perhaps inevitably, Gwyneth Paltrow makes an appearance to once again sing the cleaned-up version of Cee-Lo's "F--- You," a move that was kind of charming and amusing the first time she did it but which has grown tiresome now that she has trotted it out seeming everywhere. Interspersed with the songs are backstage sequences featuring the kids kibitzing around and long interview segments with a few young audience members who have taken the show's wholesale embrace of outsiders to heart as a way to come to terms with their own issues (one is a dwarf, one is gay and one suffers from Aspergers Syndrome) and feel better about themselves. Eventually (and I guess this qualifies as a Spoiler Alert), it all culminates in a barrage of confetti and affirmations of self topped off by a post-credits rendition of Queen's "Somebody to Love."

Obviously, I did not walk into "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" expecting a classic rockumentary along the lines of "The Last Waltz," "Stop Making Sense" or "Shine a Light." Clearly, this was always intended to be something more along the lines of a concert DVD that goes on sale a few months after the tour to remind fans of what they already experienced while letting others see what they missed. And yet, despite being a mid-level fan of the show--I enjoy it when I get a chance to see it and have the DVDs but am not a fanatic on the level of many of those seen in the audience (except when it come to that Quinn (Dianna Agron), who is just about the most cheerfully adorable person currently walking the planet)--I felt that the film as a whole just fell flat, no pun intended. The musical segments are delivered with enough energy to drive the concert audience wild but director Kevin Tancharoen is unable to find a way of conveying that excitement into cinematic terms--even the TV show does a better job of making its performances come alive than he does here. As for the songs themselves, they pretty much cover all the audience favorites but I found myself wishing that they could have thrown in a curve ball or two as they do on the show itself--surely one of the seemingly endless string of self-empowerment anthems could have been put to the side for something a little more on the wild side. For all its proclamations of being different and unique, the only real difference between a concert appearance from the "Glee" cast and Up with People is that the former are sporting shorter skirts.

However, there are bigger problems with the film than the lack of creativity in regards to the song list. One of the biggest is the inclusion of the fan testimonials in which they reveal secret hurts and discuss how the show allowed them to deal with them in positive and uplifting ways. That is one of the glories of popular culture--the way that even the most seemingly innocuous songs or movies can genuinely touch certain people in certain ways--and "Glee" is show that understands that inside and out and that is why it moves so many people. However, everything surrounding those testimonials--both the concert and the backstage nonsense (such as Rachel being informed that her idol, Barbra Streisand, is in the house just before she is to sing one of Babs' signature tunes)--is so relentlessly slick and artificial (not a hair out of place nor a dance step missed) that they begin to feel less like sincere outpourings and more like the teary-eyed interviews that you see on TV to encourage you to root for an Olympic athlete or to donate to Jerry's Kids. I am certain that these segments were included with the upmost sincerity in mind but the end result feels hollow, forced and slightly distasteful. Another major flaw is the relative lack of the snarky humor that helps give the show its edge and prevents it from getting too sanctimonious. (In other words, no Sue Sylvester.) Granted, I am not entirely sure how that could have been achieved on stage but without it, the remain show is so relentlessly life-affirming and chipper that there were times when I wanted to start cutting something, either the film or myself.

As I suggested earlier, it isn't really fair to judge "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie" by the standards of most other movies--it is essentially the visual equivalent of a souvenir concert T-shirt that is worn a few times and then eventually tossed into a closet by its owner when they eventually move on to the next big fad. Hard-core fans of the series will no doubt love it and find themselves bouncing along merrily to every single one of its relentlessly chirpy beats. More casual observers will quickly weary of the proceedings at a certain point and begin focusing on other things, such as the fairly shabby 3D visuals (the visual presentation of the film seemed a little off at the screening I attended, though I cannot say whether these problems were inherent to the movie itself or the result of the minor technical problems that preceded the show) or the sheer giggity-inspiring nature of Dianna Agron, whose presence is almost enough to convince me that there may be something to the whole blonde, blue-eyed all-American cheerleader look after all. Those who have somehow managed to avoid "Glee" altogether over the last couple of years of its cultural dominance can safely skip it as there is nothing to it that could possibly lure you into its web after all this time. Of course, if you are one of those who simply cannot stand the program and/or the phenomenon and have somehow found themselves attending a screening due to forces beyond their control, it is likely that, in the words of the pop classic that helped put the show on the map, it will seem to them as though the movie never ends and that it goes on and on and on and on. If this is the case, it is also likely that, in a move reminiscent of another of the show's signature gags, they will find themselves hurling their Slurpees, though perhaps not in the right way.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=22505&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/12/11 00:00:00
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User Comments

8/15/11 Machine Gun Tom Glee is fucking SHIT! Wrist slashing crap! 1 stars
8/14/11 Rich love it! 5 stars
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  12-Aug-2011 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2011


  DVD: 20-Dec-2011

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