The signs of Glee fatigue set in shortly after the completion of the show's first season. The runaway hit FOX network TV musical series was everywhere, an impression that approached the literal when creator Ryan Murphy announced a twenty-one stop on Glee Live! In Concert! tour to fill the show's summer hiatus and lure in its largely teenybopper audience. While those shows had no trouble filling arenas, the resulting concert film, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, couldn't fill multiplex seats. The flick gets a second chance on home video, in 2D and 3D editions.
Filmed over two nights at New Jersey's Izod Center (watch for the not-so-subtle Izod product placement), Glee: The 3D Concert Movie is an orgiastic celebration of Glee concocted by its own creators. As such, it's built to annoy anyone who prefers a little something called restraint. Still, brashness is part of the bargain for a out, loud and proud show about being out, loud and proud (whether for being gay or overweight or clumsy or physically disabled...). Staged largely in the manner of a Justin Bieber or Disney Channel star concert, the Glee stage show is all about whooping up the crowd by giving them exactly what they want: the songs they've downloaded and the dances they've studied, performed by the show's stars: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Mark Salling, Dianna Agron, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Chord Overstreet, Darren Criss, and Ashley Fink (minus the adult characters played by Matthew Morrison, Jayma Mays and Jane Lynch).
There's an inordinate amount of Up with People prancing (especially when the whole cast hits the stage en masse), but also some impressive pop-star moves designed by series choreographer Zach Woodlee and anchored by series supporting player Harry Shum, Jr. (Step Up 2: the Streets). Directed by Kevin Tancharoen (who did the 2009 Fame reboot), the concert film intersperses annoying backstage interview clips of the series stars improvising in character with slightly less annoying "documentary" snippets about four Glee enthusiasts representing the show's dare-to-be-different supertheme: a little-person cheerleader, an Asperger’s superfan, a gay teen, and four-year-old YouTube sensation "the Mini-Warbler," semi-famous for aping the Warblers' numbers from the show.
Though the movie self-lovingly belabors the idea that everyone is special in his or her own way as if they had trademarked the notion, the concert film really lives or dies on its performances of Top-40 fare: “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Sing,” “Empire State of Mind,” “I’m a Slave 4 U,” “Fat Bottomed Girls,” “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),” “Ain’t No Way,” “Jessie’s Girl,” “Valerie,” “Firework,” “Teenage Dream,” “Raise Your Glass,” “Silly Love Songs,” “Happy Days are Here Again/ Get Happy” “Safety Dance,” Lucky,” “River Deep, Mountain High,” “Forget You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” “Born This Way,” “Loser Like Me” and “Somebody to Love.”
Those performances tend toward the generic or, at their worst, to actors doing karaoke, but the fans respond like gangbusters by the looks of it—especially to the suite by Criss, backed by his fellow prep-school-styled Warblers. Unfortunately, there's no creative invention here—just repetition of arrangements and dances as seen on TV, nothing new and nothing surprising, unless you count the appearance of Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow, reprising her TV role of Holly Holliday to sing "Forget You." It's all well and good for fans of the show, but even for them the only compelling reason to see this behemoth of rehashing (the thrill of seeing it live) is negated by its becoming a not-even-live-to-tape 3D corporate widget. It's sort of like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but with more hot air.
Fox presents Glee the Concert in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy special edition. Seeing a film that self-references its 3D in a 2D version inevitably disappoints, but to my eye, the bright and colorful image fairly screams (sings?) hi-def. Yes, the digital-to-digital image here has its flaws, most notably noise in its shadows, but for the most part, the transfer is pleasing to the eye. As for the audio, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix wisely prioritizes the vocals (not always the case with concert movies) for a generally robust musical presentation, enhanced by some crowd ambience.
Extras include “Unseen Performances” (5:11, HD) “Dog Days Are Over” and “Friday,” “Extended Performances” (5:31, HD) “Ain’t No Way” and “Happy Days are Here Again/ Get Happy” and trims grouped as “Onstage with the Cast” (5:46, HD) and “Backstage with the Cast” (1:34, HD). The "onstage" deleted scenes solve one mystery—why the Jane Lynch bits were cut from the film: they suck—and may initiate another for fans: why the producers include a sketch involving Kurt and Blaine, but not the version that got media attention (the pair kissing, which happened during the final show in Dublin). The absence of that kiss and one between Brittany and Santana presumably owes not to self-censorship, but to their not being part of the Izod Center shoot that is the film's source.
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