That Christina Aguilera Movie? Is She Any Good In It? As an actor, she's a hell of a singer.
Written And Directed By: Steve Antin, who played Rick in The Last American Virgin (the guy who abandoned poor Karen after getting her pregnant). Even worse: she got back together with him instead of staying with sweet, sensible Gary. How could you dump Gary, Karen? HE PAID FOR YOUR ABORTION.
Sorry, where were we?
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: Two Cher butt shots from the "If I Could Turn Back Time" video out of five.
Tagline: "It takes a legend...to make a star."
Better Tagline: "Think Showgirls...if it aired on ABC Family."
Brief Synopsis: Wide-eyed girl from the wilds of Iowa travels to Los Angeles, loses clothes.
Not So Brief Synopsis: Ali (Aguilera) is a small-town waitress with dreams of singing glory. After a whole day's worth of unsuccessful interviews, she stumbles upon The Burlesque Lounge, an aging theater run by tough but kind-hearted Tess (Cher) and sharp-tongued Sean (Stanley Tucci). As she works her way up from waitress to feature performer, can Ali find love -- either with songwriting bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet) or devilishly handsome developer Marcus (Eric Dane) -- and save the club from creditors? More importantly, will any cliche be left unearthed?
Forget Plot, How Much Nudity Is There? Nada. Aguilera showed more skin in her "Dirrrty" video.
Seriously? In A Movie Called Burlesque? Even real-life burlesque performers don't get fully naked, but at least they shed some clothes. Antin seems to have confused "burlesque" with "cabaret," though calling the movie by that title might have led to some unnecessary confusion.
"Critical" Analysis: About ten minutes into the movie, I was getting the feeling I was about to experience an epic level of badness (the Showgirls reference wasn't a mistake), but two things ultimately render Burlesque not as bad as Joe Eszterhas' monstrosity: the presence of actual actors (Cher and Tucci), and the lack of camp.
It's still not good. Aguilera tries, but lacks the acting chops to rescue the horribly tired script from the Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo/Herbie Rides Again "evil real estate developer" plot. Fortunately, the girl has quite a set of pipes, and Antin eventually decides to let her performances carry the second half of the movie.
But for a movie that largely takes place in a "bawdy house," it's surprisingly dull. The routines are choreographed well, and Alan Cumming does well in what is essentially a glorified cameo appearance as the club's host, but other than that, who knew scantily clad women could be so boring?
It isn't like I was expecting much titillation from a PG-13 movie, but charging $20 for admission to see a bunch of women dancing around in outfits that wouldn't have been too risque by 1982 MTV standards seems a bit of a stretch (L.A. must be even more expensive than I was led to believe).
But then, so does everything about this movie. Ali has no backstory, she's just tired of waiting tables in Asshole, Iowa and sets out for the big city on a Greyhound bus. We'd have the making of a great Poison video if there was any tragedy or real conflict to be found, but the closest thing we get is a professional rivalry that develops between Ali and Lounge alpha dancer Nikkie (Kristen Bell) and the tepid romantic tension between Ali and hunky (and engaged) bartender Jack or Ali and hunky real estate developer Marcus. Marcus, of course, has designs on the Burlesque Lounge, but he's not even a bad person (his final offer to Tess and her business partner ex-husband is $1 million each), just "the wrong person," as Ali dubs him. How very...anti-climactic.
And in all honesty, Marcus is the better catch. He's honest about his intentions, rich, and hotter than donut grease. Jack has been working on the same fucking song for months and is such a great fiance he never bothers to tell his wife-to-be there's a hot blonde girl sleeping on his couch. I'm sure that relationship won't end in tears.
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Tucci basically phones in a low-rent version of Nigel, his role in The Devil Wears Prada (to be fair, he's got catty queen down to a science), and Cher can still give great emotion to a song. She was a lot better actor when her face moved, though, and neither can pull Burlesque out of the predictable hole it digs for itself.
See It/Rent It/Skip It: Skip it. Go see a real burlesque troupe instead (I'm partial to the Jigglewatts).
Burlesque is in theaters today. If you must see it, go with someone who'll only let you get to second base.