BURLESQUE Written and Directed by Steve Antin Starring Christina Aguilera, Cher, Kristen Bell, Cam Gigandet and Stanley Tucci
Ali: I’ve got to get out of this town.
We open on a street so sparse, in a town so small, one expects tumbleweeds to float by the diner where two young ladies are wasting their lives away as waitresses. Pop princess/diva/star, Christina Aguilera, is sitting on the counter top, staring off into the distance, looking forlorn and pensive. She announces that she’s got to get out of this town and before long, she is buying a one-way ticket to Los Angeles to become a star! There you have it. This is BURLESQUE, a new musical that steals (sorry, borrows would have been too generous a word to use here) from great movie musicals of the past, like CABARET, MOULIN ROUGE and CHICAGO (which incidentally all did it better), to showcase the vocal prowess of its star and transition her to the next inevitable level of her fame as a Hollywood actress.
It has not been a good year for Aguilera. Her latest album tanked and barely registered at radio. Her summer tour was scrapped due to low ticket sales, or so it was rumoured. And as if her professional troubles weren’t bad enough, she separated from her husband of just five years in the fall. With an album, a tour and a movie coming out in one year, this was clearly meant to be a big one for her. While my heart goes out to her, BURLESQUE is not going to turn anything around. Perhaps if there were a stitch of originality in the film, it might have given Aguilera some desperately needed credibility at this stage in her career. Writer/Director (and I use those terms loosely) Steve Antin, keeps the clichés coming though and it is painfully obvious that the only reason the film was made was to showcase Aguilera’s impressive chops. With reasons like that, it won’t amount to anything but a forgotten blip in the increasingly chaotic pop spectrum.
Judging from the age bracket of the audience I caught BURLESQUE with, I’d say more people were curious to see Cher return to the screen than anything else about this movie. Cher plays Tess, a former burlesque dancer that now runs the club, fittingly called “Burlesque”, where Aguilera finds acceptance and success. Cher is the only character other than Aguilera to sing in the film and never does she sing with her co-star either. In fact, when Cher does sing, I was afraid her intensely tight face might crack into tiny little pieces but alas no and at least she sounded decent. It’s a shame the songs she was given were so boring though. Fortunately, she has everyone’s favorite gay sidekick, Stanley Tucci, at her side to liven things up when necessary, which is often.
BURLESQUE is simply too easy to be anything other than mediocre. About half way through the film, when Aguilera inevitably finds her voice after struggling to get noticed in L.A. and just after Cher finds out that if they don’t raise an obscene amount of money by a fast approaching date that the club will close, you are lulled into a state of complete familiarity. Your fate is accepted and BURLESQUE makes its way to its predictable ending without full-on disaster or wardrobe malfunction. Familiar means comfortable and while comfortable can be nice, it can also be easily forgotten. Simply put, BURLESQUE falls very flat when it was clearly aiming for busty.
Thanks for reading. LUNCH rating is out of 10.
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"Burlesque" is a visually splendid musical brought down by a severe lack of originality. There isn't a plot point, a character, a theme, a dance routine, or even a song style that hasn't already been seen and heard in other musicals. Take, for example, the moment Christina Aguilera enters the titular club; on stage, a troupe of scantily-clad young women dance lewdly around Cher as she welcomes the audience with a song. She sings about the club. She sings about the girls. She points … more
I don't know how to rate it yet but, I'm looking forward to catching it in theaters. For now, it'll have to be a hopeful 5. I love Cher, I love Christina Aguilera (real Christina, even Xtina but, not Bionic Christina!) and really, I'm a sucker for dance movies of any kind.
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a small-town girl with a big voice who escapes hardship and an uncertain future to follow her dreams to Los Angeles. After stumbling upon The Burlesque Lounge, a majestic but ailing theater that is home to an inspired musical revue, Ali lands a job as a cocktail waitress from Tess (Cher), the club’s proprietor and headliner. Burlesque’s outrageous costumes and bold choreography enrapture the young ingenue, who vows to perform there one day.
Soon enough, Ali builds a friendship with a featured dancer named Georgia (Julianne Hough), finds an enemy in a troubled, jealous performer named Nikki (Kristen Bell), and garners the affection of a bartender and fellow musician Jack (Cam Gigandet). With the help of a sharp-witted stage manager (Stanley Tucci) and gender-bending host named Alexis (Alan Cumming), Ali makes her way from the bar to the stage. Her spectacular voice restores The Burlesque Lounge to its former glory, though not before a charismatic entrepreneur Marcus Gerber (Eric Dane) arrives with an enticing proposal.