A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this 3D concert musical -- which features the cast of Fox's hit show Glee performing their most popular song covers, with additional interview footage of three of their biggest fans -- is much tamer than the TV show. The series routinely deals with heavy/edgy material, but the movie is more like a "greatest hits" of the stars' performances, so there's nothing particularly questionable except for Brittany's racy rendition of Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4U." The interviews with the fans discuss issues about being "different" in high school (being gay, a little person, autistic, etc.).
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What's the story?
The framing device for this concert movie is that McKinley High School's GLEE club, New Directions, is giving a high-profile concert. The group -- featuring star singers Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Montieth), Kurt (Chris Colfer), and Mercedes (Amber Riley); resident cheerleaders Quinn (Dianna Agron), Santana (Naya Rivera), and Brittany (Heather Morris); jocks Puck (Marc Salling), Mike (Harry Shum Jr.), and Sam (Chord Overstreet); and quirky misfits Artie (Kevin McHale), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), and Zizes (Ashley Fink) -- performs such hits as "Don't Stop Believin'," "Born This Way," "Firework," "Teenage Dream," and more. Special guests include Dalton Academy Warbler Blaine (Darren Criss) and a surprise cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow as everyone's favorite substitute teacher, Holly Holliday. Behind the scenes, some of the show's biggest fans explain why the series means so much to them.
Is it any good?
Fans of the show -- "Gleeks," as they're called -- will be thrilled to see that the actors all stay in character throughout this entertaining concert. Even in off-stage interviews, audiences are treated to more of Rachel, Finn, Blaine, etc., rather than their respective actors. The conceit allows the concert to seem like any other popular TV show movie, except with a playlist of songs instead of a plot propelling the film. The stars sing some of their all-time best, with songs that span generations and genres, from Rachel's dramatic rendition of "Don't Rain on My Parade" to Finn and Puck tackling "Jessie's Girl" and "Fat Bottomed Girls," to Mercedes belting out soul classics by Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. While the contemporary hits make up the bulk of the concert, there's something for everyone (although Mercedes and Tina, who's the only one who doesn't have a spotlight song, are under-utlized -- probably to accommodate talented break-out character Blaine, who boasts a three-song set with his back-up Warblers).
The space between songs is filled with in-depth interviews with three mega fans --a real-life Cheerio who's also a little person; a guy who, like Kurt, struggled with being the only gay kid at school; and a girl with Asperger's who finds comfort in the open-hearted character of Brittany. There's even a cameo of the little 4-year-old "mini Warbler" whose YouTube video went viral. But ultimately this movie is a celebration for those who already love the show and know it's all about diversity and owning who you are, flaws and all. Those who aren't into the series may not squeal with delight like the rest of the audience, but at least they'll witness some brilliant performances, a few of which even rival the original renditions.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how most of the TV show's fans say they see themselves in various characters. What is the show's message about diversity and tolerance?
What does Glee teach about bullying and stereotyping? How do the characters represent various "types"?
Do you think this movie (and the concert itself) is intended to appeal to a different audience/age group than the TV show?
- In theaters: August 12, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2011
- Cast: Cory Monteith, Dianna Agron, Lea Michele
- Director: Kevin Tancharoen
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Musical
- Topics: Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, brief language and some sensuality
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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