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Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D -- Film Review

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When country-music artist Kenny Chesney first appears in his concert film, "Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D," he glides above the large crowd in a chair attached to cables, singing an opening song while a few fans throw colored beach balls near the performer. It's a little strange -- what if someone actually nails him? -- but beach balls keep popping out of the audience throughout the concert, so this is just part of the party mood that engulfs Chesney, his band and an enthusiastic gathering of dedicated fans.

How dedicated? Well, they pretty much know the lyrics to all his songs, so the concert is a sing-along. Chesney even lets them finish a verse here and there when he holds his mike out to the audience.

The guy really goes all out in these performances, so the 3D film, in limited release for a two-week engagement beginning Wednesday, will certainly attract plenty of fans who were unable to get to any of his concerts during the past eight summers -- and, no doubt, many who did. If you like his music -- a kind of full-tilt country that crosses into rock -- this is your movie.

To dip into the current 3D controversy for a moment, this release produced by the Hot Ticket, Sony's specialty motion picture division, is the real deal. Director Joe Thomas clearly has thought long and hard about where to put his cameras and how to use them to get the most out of 3D.

The stereoscopic 3D by 3ality Digital, the company that shot the amazing "U2 3D" concert film, takes full advantage of all the opportunities this hyperactive concert provides. Runways thrust into the audience in a cross pattern, with one going out straight and two others far to the sides so the performer can roam into and above the crowds. The 3D definitely gets one into this concert in a way a 2D movie can't.

The film was shot over six nights in five locations -- football stadiums in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Seattle, Boston and Indianapolis -- during Chesney's Sun City Carnival Tour. Intimate it's not, but one senses the special relationship Chesney has developed with his concert fans.

Would that the movie had left it at that. But, no, Chesney's voice comes onto the soundtrack now and then with self-serving commentary that pretty much congratulates his fans for having such good taste. He even claims that his music is their life. Really? Their life? Archival footage of earlier concerts and photos with family and band mates don't add anything, either.

There is a tendency among even the best directors to stuff concert films with interviews and backstage bits that seldom bring much to the party. Yes, Martin Scorsese got away with it in "The Last Waltz," but that was Scorsese and the Band, one of the seminal rock bands. This is Kenny Chesney in 3D, so let's leave it at that.

Opens: Wednesday, April 21 (Sony)
Production: The Hot Ticket
Director: Joe Thomas
Screenwriter: Holly Gleason
Producers: Kenny Chesney, Shaun Silva, Joe Thomas
3D producer: Ted Kenney
Executive producers: Clint Higham, Dale Morris, Don Maggi
Director of photography: Robert W. Peterson
Editors: Skip Masters, Mark Pruett
No rating, 99 minutes