film reporter


For the most part, the experience is missing from Disney's "Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience."

This is, of course, a 3-D concert film built around the squeaky-clean band of brothers so popular with female tweens. Unlike "U2 3D," however, director Bruce Hendricks makes little use of 3-D technology, other than to have a band member occasionally throw something at the camera. The producers did hand out glow-in-the-dark wands to the audience, so cameras catch waves of color undulating in the dark. A runway thrusts out into the audience for a brother to venture into a sea of 3-D-grasping female hands. And that's about it.

Not that this will dissuade any of the Jonas Brothers fan club of young white females who adore every musical chord and bit of foolishness emanating from the stage. Disney looks to score big with that demographic not only with this movie but also the soundtrack and DVD.

The concert, taken from the brothers' Burning Up tour last year, mostly was filmed at the Honda Center in Anaheim, despite the film's curious attempt to make it look like everything is happening in and around Manhattan. Guess the Big Apple is more hip than the home of the Anaheim Ducks.

Adding to the pedestrian presentation are "backstage" antics and a single-song Central Park concert that are surprisingly lame. Throw in a few chase sequences where the brothers are pursued by overexcited fans, which serve only to remind one how much more cinematic Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night" was, and you have a dubious experience indeed.

The main selling point of the band, which originally gained popularity on Disney Channel, is its clean-cut, "family-friendly" image — which is fine so far as it goes. Certainly their musicianship and onstage professionalism are smooth, though maybe a bit too smooth. There is little spontaneity in anything they do.

The brothers make good dance music with a strong beat and rhythm. In this concert, they never attempt a ballad or, for that matter, anything other than uptempo raves and fuzzy guitar licks. The sound amplification and the screams of freaked-out tweens tend to drown out the lyrics, but what does come through mostly is bubblegum.

Hendricks devotes considerable footage building a character around Robert "Big Rob" Feggans, bodyguard to the band as he is for other top musical acts. But there is little payoff to the buildup, other than a brief appearance onstage late in the film doing a half-hearted rap against the brothers' pop-rock sounds.

At one point, the band is joined onstage by Disney's latest ingenue, 16-year-old Demi Lovato, who has a voice but like the brothers lacks a presence. Another forgettable appearance is made by 19-year-old country star Taylor Swift.

The subtext is the extreme youth of the film's performers, even though two of the three Jonas Brothers are legally adults — Kevin is 21, Joe 19 and Nick 16. Tell you what: How about a battle of the bands between the aging Jonas Brothers and Jack Black's elementary-school kids in 2003's now-classic "School of Rock"? The Jonases wouldn't stand a chance. (partialdiff)