Movie Review: 'Burlesque'

Movie Review: 'Burlesque'

Summary: Ali, a small town girl from Iowa packs one suitcase, catches a bus to Los Angeles and has dreams of becoming a star ... or at least a dancer in a rundown club.

Published November 22, 2010

Summary : Ali, a small town girl from Iowa packs one suitcase, catches a bus to Los Angeles and has dreams of becoming a star ... or at least a dancer in a rundown club. She comes across the struggling Burlesque Lounge, which is owned by Tessa (played by Cher ) and is on the verge of closing due to financial difficulty. Ali hustles from being a waitress to the stage with her dancing and unexpected voice, helping to save the club.

Review : It's been so long since a purposely so-bad-it's-good movie hit the big screen. Sure, there are classics like Glitter and Showgirls , but these films took themselves too seriously. Burlesque knows it's a glitzy mess and ensures the audience will have a gay old time with every bead, feather, wig and boa. It's camp on steroids and I loved most of it.

Directed by Steve Antin , Burlesque is being framed as Christina Aguilera ’s vehicle for Hollywood. But, make no rhinestone mistake; this movie is about living legend Cher. I could watch the "Halfbreed" diva quiver her lips for two hours and be in cinematic heaven. The movie never bores when Cher is on the screen. The 64-year-old is still a star and she knows it. Her character's name is Tessa, but who cares; all the viewer sees is Cher and that is all you need to care about. The various black wigs, her contoured to Jesus make-up, immobile face and her signature alto that she perfectly lip synchs -- this is everything we want our older divas to be. A scene without Cher was like "pouring Tequila on your Cheerios." Yes, that is a quote directly from the camp-fest film!

That said, Cher is talented. The woman can still act, even if the script is shaky. The Oscar winner makes everything work.  Give her a bad song, a bad line, a bad wig -- this woman will forever emote as a star.

Christina Aguilera is no epic fail either. Her scenes work best when she is alongside Cher or the more seasoned actors like Stanley Tucci or Eric Dane . But, when she is paired with the unknowns and has to carry a scene alone, it sometimes goes from campfest to yawnfest. Her male lead is Cam Gigandet , someone with which she has no chemistry. Their scenes are so uncomfortable that you almost want to look away.  Their romance was unrelatable and under the most formulaic of circumstances.

Aguilera is obviously most at home on stage, which is expected. This is a musical of sorts, but you don't have to expect Xtina constantly breaking out into song. All of the songs exist on the burlesque stage. While the music wasn't that fascinating to me, there is definitely an audience that will sop up songs like "Tough Lover” and "Bound to You."

The best musical moment was Cher singing the highest notes of her career in "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me," which was written by Diane Warren . The scene features BET's own Terrence J , a welcome surprise to see in the cast, as the house DJ.

The club has closed and as Cher is about to leave, Terrence says they need to rehearse the song he finished. Well, Cher is just so exhausted, but the show must go on. She throws off her coat and delivers a performance that drag queens will be imitating for years. Terrence J intensely stares at Cher singing the notes, he is her only audience but she is really singing her life story -- it's a billion percent camp. When the song ends, Cher dashes off stage only to be confronted by a drunken dancer.   Cher has had enough and eventually slams a crowbar into the dancer's car window. I love it.

Burlesque is also one of those movies that offers silly, implausible questions.

She only needs one suitcase to move from Iowa to Los Angeles?

Who travels from Iowa to Los Angeles on the bus?  Does she know about JetBlue?

If the club is a hole in the wall then how do they have the cash for these elaborate sets?

Why is the lone Black dancer named Coco Puff?

Burlesque is a fun, tawdry, over the top, movie-going ride. In the way that Tyler Perry 's films or the Twilight franchise appeal to a specific audience, so does Burlesque . For that reason, Burlesque does its job and if you think you will like a movie like this, then you probably will.

I hope they make a Burlesque sequel, starring Patti LaBelle as den mother and Nicki Minaj as the girl with dreams!  Maybe Lil' Kim can make a guest appearance as the vengeful starlet.

Burlesque is in theaters November 24th.

Written by Clay Cane


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