“Glee” is the gift that keeps on giving, to Fox as well as its fans. Since its 2009 debut, the musical TV series has spawned legions of fans, a half-dozen CDs, a reality show, and a pair of concert tours. And now comes the inevitable concert pic, a fan-friendly extravaganza culled from this summer’s sold-out tour. Slated for a brief theatrical release, “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” is compulsory viewing for all Gleeks, mitigating withdrawal pangs until the third season begins. Pic may offer little appeal to anyone who thinks “Gleek” is a typo, but even the uninitiated could do a lot worse than this 80-minute musical valentine to the outsider in us all.
A blend of concert footage, interstitial fan segments and faux behind-the-scenes snippets (the actors remain in character), pic avoids going the “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” route of documenting the cast members’ rise to stardom. Nor does it offer much in the way of surprises. Instead, the goal is largely to provide the Glee Live! concert event for those who missed the recent tour, an immersive experience enhanced by fan testimonials about the series’ positive impact on their lives. As tempting as it is to label this approach over-calculated and self-congratulatory, it’s virtually impossible not to be swept up in the surge of ebullience and affection. As one fan attests, ” ‘Glee’ is like medicine.” Adds another, “It’s like the playlist of my life.”
Under the watchful eye of producer/co-creator Ryan Murphy, helmer Kevin Tanchareon (“Fame”) plays to “Glee’s” strengths. In this regard, he’s abetted by editors Myron I. Kerstein, Jane Moran and Tatiana S. Regal, who selected numbers from several concert appearances (mostly two June dates in New Jersey). Many of the show’s hits are featured, from covers of ’80s hits like “Don’t Stop Believin’?” to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to the show’s own composition “Loser Like Me.”
A pitch-perfect Rachel (Lea Michele) emotes with “Don’t Rain on My Parade;” hunky Finn (Cory Monteith) elicits swoons with “Jessie’s Girl”; smokin’ hot Brittany (the dazzling Heather Morris) covers “I’m a Slave 4 U” better than Britney Spears herself, and so forth. Nearly everyone gets his or her moment centerstage.
Interspersed with the energetic musical numbers are fan commentaries, three of which are given special attention. A young woman with Asperger syndrome explains how “Glee” has helped her come our of her shell; a cheerleading dwarf describes how its message of acceptance encouraged her to overcome her feelings of being different; and a young man movingly recalls how Kurt (Chris Colfer), the show’s gay character, has given him the strength to come out. Though these could have done without re-enactments, each of these stories, in its own way, offers an inspiring parable about tolerance and self-empowerment.
For a film that was put together so rapidly, it doesn’t look at all shoddy (except for a couple of frames near the end shot from the giantscreen instead of the stage). The 3D effect, however, is largely superfluous until the final credits, when the show’s trademark blue slushie heads straight for the viewer. On that note, you might leave “Glee 3D” feeling a little gooey all over, but that slushie does taste kind of sweet.