Back in 1953, when Howard Hughes was using Jane Russell’s obvious frontal attributes as a selling point for her films, the posters for her first 3D movie, “The French Line,” promised, “She’ll knock BOTH your eyes out!”
Cut to nearly 60 years later, and now we’ve got “Glee” star Heather Morris telling the camera that her boobs (her word, not mine) will look great in 3D, and then proving it by provocatively shimmying up to the camera for “Glee: The 3-D Concert Movie.”
And no one’s gotten quite the same mileage out of the stereoscopic process since the curvy Ms. Russell, with the possible exception of the “Piranha 3D” day-players.
Also read: Review: 'Glee' 3D Soundtrack
All of which is to say: The producers were wise enough to throw in something that would attract actual straight guys — not widely known, as a bloc, to be part of the “Glee” demographic — to the theater.
Savvy marketing is nothing new for the brain trust behind “Glee,” of course — the concert tour and subsequent film both keeps the fans fired up over the summer hiatus and provides an opportunity for yet another chart-topping soundtrack album — but “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie” reminds us that, News Corp. product-pushing aside, the hit show’s up-with-the-underdog message resonates with its fan base.
In between musical numbers, we get to know three teens whose lives were changed by “Glee” — a cheerleader and prom queen who happens to be a dwarf (again, her word, not mine), a gay guy forced out of the closet when the contents of his journal became public, and a girl with Asperger’s whose “Gleek”-dom helped her interact with others.
The editors were savvy enough to keep these interludes short and sweet so that the film can focus on the musical performances, and with talented folks like Morris, teen-heartthrob vocalist Darren Criss, and Harry Shum, Jr. (whose dance-your-face-off skills get as much mileage out of 3-D as Morris’ décolletage), that’s enough to make the movie work.
Not all of the “Glee” folk get equal time — and they remain in character for the backstage interviews, a baffling choice — so if you’re a fan of Jenna Ushkowitz, Chord Overstreet or Ashley Fink, consider yourself warned. Still, the ones who do sing (as well as an unbilled special guest star) do right by the tunes they’re covering, with the notable exception of Cory Monteith’s butchery of “Jessie’s Girl.” (His number tops the chart of Best Time to Hit the Restroom.)
Musicals have gotten somewhat short shrift among the new millennial 3D movies, and when we do get them, they rarely take full advantage of that third dimension: the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber docs had a certain you-are-there quality to them but little else to shout about, while “Step Up 3-D” was singularly lacking in sneaker soles hitting you in the nose.
With the “Glee” movie, director Kevin Tancharoen (previously responsible for the lifeless “Fame” remake) kicks things up a notch, making viewers feel not only like they’ve got the best seat in the house but also like they’re part of the chorus.
Granted, if you lack even the tiniest amount of fondness for “Glee,” this movie isn’t going to win you over. But if you prefer your Katy Perry songs sung by Lea Michele or the Warblers, you’re in for a seat-dancing good time.