“Glee” in 3-D: An affirmation tale

After several seasons of watching “Glee,” a Fox television series about life at a high school boasting both a giddy glee choir and a fierce football team, I was eager to see the “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” when we got passes to a Tuesday night screening in Scottsdale.

After feeling disappointed many years ago by a live “American Idol” concert in downtown Phoenix (I was mother to a pre-tween at the time), I didn’t expect much going into “Glee 3D.” But the movie, being shown in theaters for just two weeks beginning Aug 12, was surprisingly fun.

I found myself wishing I had the movie’s soundtrack as Lizabeth and I drove a rental car from the airport in Las Vegas to our hotel in Cedar City, Utah where we’re staying during our annual pilgrimage to the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

I expected lively concert tunes, choreography with an aerobics class feel and lots of screaming concert fans. All there. But the  movie also features backstage conversations with cast members. Think Lea Michele sharing Barbra Streisand musings in “Rachel” mode.

The movie is rated PG, perhaps because of a few revealing costumes peppered with things like feathers and other furry stuff I can’t quite name. Prepare for a couple of crotch grabs too, as “Artie” (Kevin McHale) and the gang whip out the gold sequins for a cover of Michael Jackson’s “PYT.”

Still, the concert is good clean fun. Many of the costumes have a flirty 50s vibe, and the shoes—especially those sported by “Kurt” (Chris Colfer) – are a real kick. I was impressed that “Rachel” spent most of her time in silver flats instead of the stilettos sported by much of today’s sophomore class.

The best fashion piece, however, was a grey wool skirt with black piping worn by “Holly Holliday” (Gwyneth Paltrow) – who performs a single song. Still, it was a tiny wanna-be-Warbler, known to many for his You Tube performances, who stole the show. Think preppy blazer and tie falling to the knees.

The vocal talents of lead cast members are well-established, but I didn’t know others would perform sing so well in a concert setting. “Mercedes” (Amber Riley), and plenty of others, rocked the house. And Kleenex was in order when “Kurt” went solo.

A couple of cast members failed to truly shine in the singing department, but consider the source on this one. I can barely breathe and sing at the same time, let alone gyrate for a full 90 minutes.

The choreography builds as the concert goes along, so don’t fret if you find yourself a bit bored with early numbers. I remember being one of those lovely long-haired dancers once, and it’s clear lots of folks in the concert audience do too.

The camera often panned to middle-aged folks enjoying songs first released when they were youth. Sadly, it’s my generation that gave the world Rick Springfield and “Jessie’s Girl.”

There was plenty of swooning in the audience, and the movie theater, when particular cast members did their thing. Think “Brittany” (Heather Morris), who’s more dancer than singer. And “Blaine” (Darren Criss), one of several “Warblers” (a competing glee choir from an all boys prep school) on the television series.

There are plenty of concerts on film, but “Glee 3D” is more than that. It’s an anthem of acceptance. While performing a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” cast members wore white T-shirts with big black letters describing a trait they’ve come to accept. Nose. Four Eyes. Can’t Sing. Likes Boys. Bad Attitude.OCD.

Scenes of concert and crowd are interspersed with snippets of everyday youth discussing differences that present very real challenges. A teen girl with Aspergers syndrome talks of overcoming social anxieties. A gay teen tells the gripping story of his journey from shame to serenity. And a teen of short stature shares her dream of attending prom.

As we waited in line to board an airplane the day after seeing “Glee 3D,” Lizabeth shared that a friend posted something on Facebook about her plans to see a screening that evening. “Don’t judge,” the friend posted on her Facebook page.

Not to worry. Unless, of course, you show up at the theater with a giant red foam finger marked “Glee.”

— Lynn

Note: Don’t mistake the giant on-screen Slushie-fest and rolling credits for the film’s finale. There’s more, so stay seated (unless, of course, you want to get up and dance).

Coming up: “Glee” connections to Broadway, A playful production of “Romeo and Juliet”

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