I’m not really a full-on Gleek, maybe just a touch Gleek-ish. Yes, I watch the show, but I feel it has gone markedly downhill since its first stellar half-season. The episodes are seriously hit or miss. Storylines get started and dropped— Rachel’s mother? Quinn’s painful past? Sue Sylvester’s humanity?—and, as brilliant as Jane Lynch is, she can only sabotage the glee club so many times before it becomes tiresome. The proselytizing has gotten to be a bit much, too, even for someone like me, who totally embraces Glee’s message of celebrating our differences. It’s a classic case of a show reading too much of its own good press.
But at least there’s the music, which is always fun—well, as long as Mr. Schue isn’t rapping, that is—and sometimes downright magical.
So, of course, Glee: The 3D Concert Movie was going to a have a certain base level of entertainment. How could it not? These kids are just too darn talented—especially breakout star Lea Michele, who can wrap her voice around a classic Barbra Streisand song like nobody’s business (her “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is as much of a showstopper on stage as it was on the TV show).
But we get to see the New Directions gang strut their stuff every week on Fox—with higher production values than they could possibly have on a live stage. And the allure of 3D (which is zero for me, by the way) doesn’t quite compensate.
One potential thrill of the concert movie, of course, is to get glimpses of the stars behind-the-scenes. But Glee 3D doesn’t even provide that pleasure—the actors stay in character for the (pseudo) backstage footage. So, instead of seeing Lea Michele interacting with Chris Colfer, we see Rachel interacting with Kurt. Cop-out! (Oh, and if you’re looking for either Matthew Morrison's Mr. Schue or Jane Lynch, stay home—they’re not in the film. There is, however, a cameo by a certain high-profile Glee guest star, but I won’t spoil it by saying who.)
The Justin Bieber 3D concert movie was fleshed out with stories of the mop-topped idol’s amazing YouTube-fueled ascension. The Glee film is fleshed out with . . . an advertisement for how awesome Glee is. I’m only half-kidding.
Periodically throughout the film, we meet three Glee fans (four, if you count the pint-sized “mini-Warbler” who is creepy/adorable in that way 4-year-olds who imitate teenagers can be): There’s a Glee fan who is gay and was inspired to come out of the closet by confident Kurt. There’s a Glee fan with Asperger’s, whose love of ditzy deadpan queen Brittany apparently encouraged her to seek out friends and strive to help others. And there’s a Glee fan who is a dwarf, but still a popular cheerleader. (What this has to do with Glee, I’m not sure—but good for her!)
I might have been more inspired by the footage of these teens if it didn’t so closely resemble the kind of stuff you can see literally every week on MTV, on such shows as Made and True Life. As it is, it seemed both self-congratulatory and somewhat facile.
In the end, there are inherent joys in watching this talented and beautiful (hello Blaine!) cast strut their collective stuff in front of truly ecstatic fans. But Glee 3D gives us nothing beyond those expected pleasures. And its “better living through Glee” message worked my last nerve.