Made primarily for fans who couldn't attend the summer 2011 tour, this is mainly a concert movie featuring some 20 songs from the TV show. Each main character gets his or her moment in the spotlight as they stir the arena crowd into a frenzy of adoration. Between numbers, we meet fans who have felt the show's impact: sparky high-school cheerleader Janae, who's only incidentally a dwarf; the soulful Trenton, who was forced out as gay in eighth grade; and the reclusive Josie, who has emerged from her shell as a Gleek.
Strangely, the movie never delves into any back-stories. We learn nothing about either the characters or the actors who play them, although we see amusing backstage sketches in which the cast stays in character. Even on-stage, they play their roles, including Paltrow, who turns up for one number as substitute Holly Holliday. Inexplicably, there's no glimpse of either Matthew Morrison or Jane Lynch.
So what we're left with are the songs, which are belted out with a energy and some skill by this lively, likeable cast. Showstoppers include Riley's solo Ain't No Way and her storming duet with Rivera on River Deep, Mountain High.
And Morris is on fire as a dancer (often alongside the equally limber Harry Shim Jr), including in her own number I'm a Slave 4 U. Meanwhile, McHale cuts loose in a fantasy Safety Dance, and Michele and Colfer get the more vocally challenging numbers.
But the film only leaves us wanting to know more about these performers, to see them as themselves rather than the people they play on TV. The film is shot in crisp 3D, but never actually puts it to use. And in the end the movie's most interesting aspect is its glimpse at how the TV show has so effectively captured the zeitgeist of today's generation, people who feel like losers but still have something to say. The way the show has reclaimed the "loser" tag would make a good documentary on its own.
Run time: 84 mins
In Theaters: Friday 12th August 2011
Box Office USA: $11.9M
Box Office Worldwide: $11.8M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: 20th Century Fox
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 36
IMDB: 5.2 / 10
Director: Kevin Tancharoen
Producer: Dante Di Loreto, Ryan Murphy
Starring: Dianna Agron as Quinn Fabray, Lea Michele as Rachel Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow as Holly Holliday, Darren Criss as Blaine Anderson, Chris Colfer as Kurt Hummel, Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester, Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson, Heather Morris as Brittany Pierce, Kevin McHale as Artie Abrams, Chord Overstreet as Sam Evans, Mark Salling as Noah 'Puck' Puckerman, Naya Rivera as Santana Lopez, Harry Shum Jr. as Mike Chang, Amber Riley as Mercedes Jones, Jenna Ushkowitz as Tina Cohen-Chang, Ashley Fink as Lauren Zizes, Riker Lynch as Jeff, Curt Mega as Nick, Titus Makin Jr. as David
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