Sunday, August 11, 2013


Directed by Steve Antin.
2010. Rated PG-13, 119 minutes.
Christina Aguilera
Alan Cumming
Glynn Turman
Chelsea Traille
Dainna Agron

Ali (Aguilera) flees her small hometown and dead-end job in search of fame and fortune in the big city. Once there, she stumbles into a burlesque bar owned by Tess (Cher) and just has to find a way to get on that stage. For you young’uns not sure what a burlesque bar is, I’ll (over) simplify. It’s a place where people go to watch women dance and get not quite naked. In this case, Cher has incorporated lip-syncing into all the routines and is pretty strict with the rule that no one sings live, but her. All of this is merely backdrop for the two real issues. The first, of course, is Ali's potential romance with barkeep turned roommate Jack (Gigandet). The other is that the club is going broke. You know how this works. They have x number of days to come up with x amount of money, or else.

It’s interesting that this movie uses lip-syncing as a focal point because it clearly imitates maybe a hundred musicals that came before it. Truth told, there is not one original bone in its body. Burlesque isn't just influenced by the movies of the past, it seems to have ingested them then jammed a finger down its own throat and regurgitated. We can predict the next event with alarming accuracy because we've seen this exact movie at least a few times before.

For the most part, the cast doesn't help. Cher brings the Cher persona and works just fine. Her less experienced co-star is not. Christina Aguilera isn't terrible, just boring. All that she really brings is that big voice to the numbers where she is eventually allowed to sing. Her love interest Cam Gigandet, as well as her fellow dancing girls (Kristen Bell and Julianne Hough among them) are all similarly vanilla, but don’t have any musical moments to elevate him. The one saving grace in this crowd is the remarkable Stanley Tucci. He continues to validate my belief that he’s one of the finest character actors of our time with another wonderful turn.

The scenes where girls are cavorting about on stage are truly the lifeblood of Burlesque. These, plus two other show-stopping moments make a valiant effort to save the film: the first time our heroine gets to sing and the powerful ballad Cher gets to belt out near the end. Unfortunately, they only prove to be brief reprieves from the movie trudging from one well-worn plot point to the next.

MY SCORE: 4.5/10

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