You've got to hand it to those Imagineers at Disney. Only people with considerable gifts for making movie magic could manage to transform into 3-D an entity as patently one-dimensional as the Jonas Brothers.
You would, however, think they'd have too much shame to unload this concert crockumentary on the unwitting -- or witless -- public.
I'm sorry, moms. Really I am. I get boy bands. I swooned over Davy Jones and David Cassidy and, erm, Bobby Sherman. But I have daughters, too, and when they were the age of this movie's target demographic, I would have spent an entire Pleasant Valley Sunday -- no strings attached -- watching them do the N' Sync "Bye Bye Bye" dance before I'd expose them to the money-sucking intelligence vacuum that is "Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience."
Provided I'd prescreened it, of course.
This mercifully short (76 minutes) film intersperses footage from the brothers' 2008 "Burning Up" concert tour with some horribly scripted and acted "reality" sequences. Those scenes include the boys performing some dopey non-quite-antics at the breakfast table, an interminable sequence of them riding Segways through the underbelly of some miscellaneous concert venue, and a short segment where they strip down to bare chests while making a backstage costume change before feigning modesty and throwing sweaty 3-D shirts over the camera lens.
There is a you've-got-to-be-kidding-me scene of the boys watching a morning program that shows scenes of the Beatles being mobbed, as well as other iconic scenes of screaming teens and boy bands throughout history. Then the newswoman says something like, "But never has another group attracted as many fans as the Jonas Brothers." This was when I did a spit-take with my Snapple.
There are several segments of the boys being ferried around New York City in their limo -- now at "Good Morning America," now in Times Square, now at the Apple store -- and each time they react to the throngs of girls (who imitate Fab Four fans with a marked lack of pep) they get all goggled-eyed, as if they are as incredulous about their popularity as I am.
Songs all sound alike
JONAS from C1
At no point does one garner from this backstage hokum any knowledge about the boys, who apparently all have different personalities. I looked that up online. One is a leader. One is a diplomat. One is a clown. Who knew? I am still not sure which one is which.
As far as the concert footage is concerned, there is nothing particularly objectionable, except perhaps for the fact that the set design and pyrotechnics are pretty rudimentary for the price people probably paid for the tickets. There are some steps the boys go up and down, a thrust stage they strut up and down, and some elevator-type stands they ride up and down.
They are backed up with the string section of some all-girls orchestra, all wearing the ill-fitting tux shirts, bow ties and black polyester slacks you would see in any high school auditorium during spring concert season. In other words, no expense spent by the costume shop.
The boys themselves have a sort of Teddy Graham sexuality that is perfectly nonthreatening to preteens and tweens. They gravitate toward white shoes; they all wear clothes that look like they came from the half-off rack at "5-7-9" -- kinda girly and too small -- and their three-quarter-inch-thick chastity rings reinforce the wholesome message of their songs, which all feature snappy rhymes like "out-of-control/rock 'n' roll" and "S.O.S./second-guess." But I did detect some subliminal images that might make some girls a bit antsy without quite knowing why. I am dying to elaborate, but that would spoil the only fun adults are likely to have while sitting through this.
This said, the Jonas Brothers' songs aren't all that bad, although they all sound the same. The young one's voice doesn't crack much, and he seems to have some guitar and piano chops. The cute one has a serviceable voice and some nicely sculpted guns. The oldest one has a long career ahead of him bossing around roadies.
And all of this is in glorious digital 3-D. I cannot quite figure out why. The arena full of 3-D glowsticks looks pretty cool, and when the cute one makes eyes at the camera I could see where a swoon might be possible. But when the goofy one who fancies himself a hard-rocker does that windmill strumming thing on his thigh-level guitar, I just felt embarrassed. It's just plain creepy in any number of dimensions.
The 3-D approach does give the filmmakers the opportunity to hand out glasses that resemble the Ray Ban Wayfarers that Tom Cruise made cool in "Risky Business" and the Jonas boys have now co-opted. The glasses are cool. The Jonases are not.
"Jonas Bothers: The 3-D Concert Experience"
Review: 1/2 star (out of four)
Starring Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas. Directed by Bruce Hendricks. 76 minutes. Rated G. Opened Friday in area theaters.