As an avid closet Gleek (the name assigned to fans of the Glee TV series) I was simultaneously sad and excited when I heard the news of yet another cash cow milking 3D concert movie. Justin Bieber's concert movie did brilliantly (not surprisingly) and I was curious to finally experience this strange substitute for an actual concert (and movie) myself.
The first thing that I should probably warn you of is that if the TV series itself didn't appeal to you, there is little to no chance that the film version will convert you into a Glee-freak. At its heart, it's still just about a bunch of hormonal teenage misfits that happen to be good singers, so if this concept doesn't sound entertaining, you best stay far away from this one.
That being said, even non-fans should appreciate director Kevin Tancharoen’s (Fame) attempts at making the film relevant, by focusing on relatable issues that modern teens face. This is done by means of a documentary approach, which plays out in the form of real-life testimonials from fellow Gleeks, illustrating how the show has changed their lives. While this might sound extremely egotistical, the recipe does work surprisingly well and even if the stories don't move you emotionally, you are likely to at least enjoy them as welcome breaks from all the singing. You do get to hear from the Glee cast themselves as well every now and then, but these are however intended to give the film some needed comic relief, with great laughs from Britney (Heather Morris), Rachel (Lea Michele) and Artie (Kevin McHale).
And yes, there's a lot of singing here to work through, as virtually every cast member gets the chance at a solo performance in front of a zombie-like legion of Glee fans, with some favourites of course receiving more of a vocal spotlight than others. A big part of the film's entertainment value actually comes from merely observing your fellow Glee devotees enjoying the songs that they have witnessed on the small screen, now live.
“A big part of the film's entertainment value actually comes from merely observing your fellow Glee devotees enjoying the songs that they have witnessed on the small screen, now live.”
And for the most part, these performances are really spectacular, with the best numbers coming from the voice pipes of Rachel, Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) proving that they really do sound as good in real life as they do in front of a real audience. Rachel's rendition of Barbara Streisand's ‘Don’t rain on my parade’ and her duet with Kurt is most definitely the musical highlights of the film. But when it comes to sheer entertainment value however, the part of the cast with less of a singing talent manages to deliver in spades, with a powerful Britney performance by Britney, a fun MJ rendition by Mike (Harry Shum) & Artie as well as a surprise guest appearance that I would rather not spoil.
The film's 3D is better than most I've seen, as it is used quite cleverly to make some of the performances even more memorable, even though it does sometimes feel as if Rachel is going to spit on your face because of the sheer intensity of the effects in certain scenes.
For the most part, it would seem as though the film does a lot right, but all of this makes the film’s greatest failure, namely the very strange absence of two of the show's greatest attractions even more unforgivable. Believe it or not, but neither coach Sue Sylvester or Will Schuster makes it on the stage or are even mentioned during the course of the film – It's as if these vital parts of the show's success have simply disappeared from the face of the earth, as you sorrowfully begin to realize that they are never going to make their inevitable appearance. While this might sound like a minor flaw, it did subtract from the overall experience for me quite dramatically, as the film just feels a bit empty without them.
“It's as if these vital parts of the show's success have simply disappeared from the face of the earth, as you sorrowfully begin to realize that they are never going to make their inevitable appearance.”
Nevertheless, the film is definitely worth the price of admission and the cast do a stand up job of keeping things afloat. Glee, as a cultural phenomenon, should at the very least be commended for bringing the concept of a musical to modern audiences and this film cements that achievement.