By Roger Moore
To be a 15 year-old girl, in braces and swooning over that first love. To join friends you can giggle, text and scream with at a show. To bubble at that gum that is bubble-gum pop.
To have a Jonas Brother to call one’s very own.
If you aren’t a teenage girl or can’t channel your inner groupie for 76 minutes, you have no business at “Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience.” It’s a fans-only film that gets you up close-but-not-personal with the fresh-faced trio — Joe, Kevin and Nick — for a New York City concert and series of record-launch events.
The 3D lets us see drumsticks, guitar picks and Taylor Swift’s blond extensions fly in our faces, the neck of that guitar that Kevin pounds away on but which doesn’t seem to appear in the sound mix (not all the time, anyway) right under our nose.
The offstage footage shows us their handler and sometime rapper Big Rob wake them for a long day of NYC appearances, with the boys acting like teens who want/need a little more sleep. A funny moment? They’re eating breakfast, going over their day’s agenda, when Big Rob has to shoo a too-helpful room service maid who’s chosen to linger in the presence of the cuties. Faked or not, it feels like the most spontaneous thing in the movie.
The easy comparison here is the Disney packaged Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana 3D concert film of last year, and this isn’t up to that. Same director (Bruce Hendricks), sure, and they’re all part of that Disney pop music stable of stars, so there are no rough edges to the over-produced concert, no room for improvisation or freshness in their brief set. But that Cyrus film had the odd off-message moment — Miley backstage complaining about her backup dancers almost dropping her, her stage-mom cajoling her into being a trouper about that and doing her job.
Team Jonas seems too disciplined to allow such human foibles to show. Their parents are nowhere to be found. There’s no peek at them creating songs or being taught the choreography of their shows. Genuine fan mayhem moments are mixed in with plainly manufactured ones.
Musical highlights? The tunes “Pushing Me Away,” “Burnin’ Up” — are pleasant, if instantly forgettable. I enjoyed watching the all-female string section (a 12-piece band backs them). These classically trained musicians, the cellists especially, seemed to get a charge from the tunes, the guys and their screaming fans and the chance to dance (in their seats). You can’t do that with Johannes Brahms.
Girl-singers Demi Lovato and Swift come on for one song each. Are any of them paying attention to the lyrics of “Video Girl?”
“It’s gonna suck when the camera stops rolling.”
No matter. It’s all good, clean fun, market researched and Disney-engineered to make your teen girls part with their baby-sitting money. Last time I checked, no girl-turned-woman ever pondered the cash she blew on David Cassidy, New Kids on the Block or The Backstreet Boys, or wanted to forget those experiences or get that money back.
As teen thrills go, this sort of bubble-gum seems safest of all. And it won’t get stuck in your braces.