First off, the reason that they are all "staring at the camera" is because this is filmed in a documentary style. As if all of the people are being interviewed about their lives and jobs.
Great performances by an all-star cast. Eileen Brennan ("Clue," "Murder by Death") gives a WONDERFUL performance, but unfortunately does not sing her character's "Millwork" song herself. Patti LaBelle sings the [...] out of her "Cleaning Women" song, but does not seem all that emotionally involved in the proceedings. Barry Bostwick gives a touching and brilliant performance, delivering a heart-wrending rendition of "Fathers and Sons." Rita Moreno stops the show, and other wonderful performances given by all.
The sets are rather like "Sesame Street for adults," but I personally find it to be very affective and theatrical. Semi-realism with some flat, 2-dimensional pieces thrown in there for you to remember that this is--after all--a theatrical piece (despite all of the realism in the documentary-style acting and film-making).
All in all, this is a BEAUTIFUL piece. A show about REAL human beings, telling their lives and stories in a non-linear way. Few musicals about real people are out there (only Sondheim's and Kander & Ebb's pieces, as well as I DO! I DO!, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and RAGTIME come to mind), but those that are are very affective and are truely quite moving.
However, my one MAJOR let down: Craig Carneila's beautiful song "The Mason" is not in this film.