There is a new feature film out based on the television series Glee. The movie is part concert footage (about twenty old pop songs worth) and part documentary about how fans feel about the series and how cast members continue to play their characters off-stage.
I have never seen the TV show Glee. In attending a showing of the movie, I did not have the preparation that the movie’s makers assumed movie goers would have.
So I had an experience a little like one Robert Benchley described more than sixty years ago of walking into a movie in “continuous showing,” so that it was always going and always followed by another showing of itself. Half an hour into the film, Benchley would walk in and immediately and arbitrarily decide who the characters were, what their relationships were, and what was going on with the story. Then no matter what happened on-screen, he would explain it to suit his preconceptions. He called the process “Block That Plot.”
I came in at the beginning of the picture. But I didn’t know what had been happening in the series. So my conjectures about the TV Glee may prove to be incorrect. But they make perfect sense if all one knows is “Glee in 3D,” the motion picture.
Apparently a group of characters from the TV show are touring the country singing (and lip syncing) and dancing along with a small band (and extensive tapes). They are performing new arrangements of proven pop songs, including “Don’t Stop Believing,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (which becomes a ballad here), “Fat Bottomed Girls,” and “Ain’t No Way,” the song Carolyn Franklin wrote for her famous sister.
The vocal renderings are all right. Two or three of the show’s around thirty performers sing well. All of them dance pretty well, although the choreography here is hardly memorable. One ambulatory actor plays a wheel chair bound character, which seemed odd. The concert sets are simple — a stage of light boards with the instrumental combo elevated to the right and left upstage and a smaller island stage down in the crowd in the inside of the basketball arena.
The performers, all apparently representing members of a public school’s glee club, wore jeans and golf shirts, school clothes, cheerleader outfits, preppy boat club blazers (worn by a group of boys who may have been members of a local private school’s glee club), and later t-shirts, each printed with a summation of the character’s main perceived reason for self-consciousness — one said “Lebanese,” one (with an arrow pointing up) said “I’m With Stoopid,” and one, worn by the series’ effeminate male character, said “Likes Boys.”
These last were copied by audience members. Interviews with them showed that they like the series and like the idea that the characters all suffer teen-aged social angst. This point is made over and over and over again. At least three fans get extended biographical look-ins as if they were featured Olympic athletes.
And that’s about it. The actress (really, the dancer) playing Brittany, the dumb blonde character, says she is glad the movie would be shown in 3D, because of how it would make her breasts appear. The 3D is, as it almost always is, a dead loss here. Viewers gain nothing from it. The images are darker. Tickets cost an extra $3 a piece. Brittany’s breasts don’t protrude additionally.
In short, I can’t recommend the movie to folks who aren’t enthusiastic fans of the series. But “Glee in 3D” is energetic and colorful. Fans will undoubtedly find it amusing, and won’t need or want the set up that Glee newbies may wish the film provided.