BURLESQUE - Mainly for the Undiscerning
BURLESQUE (musical drama)
Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Peter Gallagher, Alan Cumming, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci
Director: Steve Antin
Screenplay: Steve Antin
Time: 118 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: What is the difference between burlesque and striptease? Answer: Burlesque is just striptease with singing. Now that we have ironed out the definition of burlesque, let me clarify that this is a PG-13 film and the title more aptly refers to 'The Burlesque Lounge' in the narrative, rather than the dancing. Thank goodness for that.
Burlesque is basically a vehicle for pop queen Christina Aguilera's big screen debut. And with flamboyant Cher and the delectable Stanley Tucci as co-stars, the effort shouldn't be such a bore. Too bad it isn't a hit either.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT: Small town girl Ali (Aguilera) goes to Los Angeles to follow her dreams and become a singer. After stumbling upon The Burlesque Lounge, a majestic but ailing theatre that is home to an inspired musical revue, Ali lands a job as a cocktail waitress. Burlesque's outrageous costumes and bold choreography enrapture the young ingenue, who vows to perform there one day.
Soon enough, Ali makes her way from the bar to the stage, after convincing the lounge owner Tess (Cher) that she can sing. Her spectacular voice restores The Burlesque Lounge to its former glory, although not before a charismatic entrepreneur (Eric Dane) arrives with an enticing proposal.
HITS & MISSES: There is no doubt that Aguilera is one heck of a singer and a sexy dancer, but one has to be a really ardent fan of hers to appreciate her acting. She has very limited emotional range - and what we see on the screen is not Ali the character but Aguilera the star trying to play Ali. Ditto that for Cher - who is always Cher no matter who or what she plays. Only Tucci manages to provide some 'zing' into the non-dancing scenes as Tess' gay friend Sean, while Alan Cumming recalls Joel Grey's emcee role in Cabaret. Eye candy Cam Gigandet plays Ali's love interest.
Indeed, writer-director Steve Antin 'borrows' a lot from Cabaret, Showgirls and Chicago - in an uninspired and tired script. The lines are lame and there's nothing burlesque about Burlesque! Yeah, the costumes are great but we get more flash - and flesh - out of a Pussycat Dolls routine than all of this film.
THE LOWDOWN: Entertainment for the undiscerning.