Burlesque Review

One star wants to revitalize her film career, the other wants to jumpstart hers. Unfortunately, the vehicle they’ve hitched their futures to offers little justification for either of them being afforded their respective second chances. Burlesque has some of the flashy elements that made Chicago and Moulin Rouge hits with audiences, but ultimately lacks the heart or genuine acting talent that carried them both; by contrast, in terms of singing, Cher and Christina Aguilera give more than most films could ask for, as the two have more natural talent in that regard than Catherine Zeta-Jones or Ewan McGregor. Unfortunately, Burlesque isn’t just a concert film; there is some attempt at plot made, something resembling acting ending up on screen. Once all of the film’s parts are digested, you realize that it’s two different films crammed into one: one is a music video expo and the other is a genuine dramatic piece featuring actual actors.

Ali (Aguilera) leaves a dead-end job at a diner in a small town and heads to Los Angeles, where dreams are simultaneously made and destroyed. After a depressing spree of job-searching, she stumbles across a little burlesque club and weasels her way into a waitressing job, somewhat to the annoyance of club owner Tess (Cher) and operator Sean (Stanley Tucci). A few nights pass and one of the dancers in the show gets knocked up leading to a series of tryouts where Ali gets a chance to shine and become a member of the troupe. Her second break comes when the lead dancer Nikki (Kristen Bell) arrives drunk and Tess has Ali go on in her place. An act of poorly thought out sabotage sees Ali forced to sing one night, and the audience goes wild. Tess reconfigures the act around Ali making her the big star, and Nikki just stews in the corner. As Ali climbs to fame, her relationship with roommate Jack (Cam Gigandet), the bartender at the club who gave her her first job at the club, blossoms into a romance. Will Ali be tempted by the sins of fame? Will the stardom go to her head? Will she forget her roots? Will she help save the club from financial ruin? You already know the answers, because they’re obvious and because we’ve already seen them play out in better films that came before.

A beloved theatrical company faces financial crisis and thus turns to the singing talents of a star and a brand new act to save it. Sound like Moulin Rouge to you? A small town girl moves to a big city and finds unexpected success performing at a venue whose initial appearance conflicts with her naiveté and conservative morality. Sound like Coyote Ugly to you? Burlesque doesn’t have an original idea in its head when it comes to a story, and it’s doubtful that it ever even made an attempt to be something unique. Every aspect of the film points to it being nothing but a delivery system for new music by Cher and Christina Aguilera, a series of six music videos broken up with a lot of ridiculous back and forth competition and will-they-won’t-they sexual tension. Except “tension” is too generous a word. The tension is never there. You know how it’s all going to end, and so do the characters.

The costumes and bright lights involved in some of the dance numbers make the hi-def worthwhile at points, but otherwise the film is a basic drama whose merit isn’t heightened by Blu-ray. If you absolutely need to see the “show stopping” musical number “Burlesque” in all its glory, then maybe the Blu-ray will warrant a rental. The purchase will only be for those who are huge Cher and Christina Aguilera fans and want to see and hear them in crystal clarity. Otherwise the Blu-ray incentive just isn’t there.

Blu-ray Bonus Features

The combo pack includes the film on DVD and Blu-ray, with a few extras on the hi-def disc. The extras are pretty standard behind the scenes stuff, taking modest looks at the filming of the musical numbers while interviewing cast and crew about their thoughts on filming, costumes, learning dance moves, and singing. Once you get past those, you’ll find some deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and an alternate opening for the film. Remember, storytelling is not this film’s strong point, so believe me when I say the alternate opening doesn’t change how you might see the film in any way. Finally, the real meat of the extras is the ability to watch the six musical numbers in their full duration. Unless you’re really intent on seeing the film, I’d recommend just watching the musical numbers this way and then moving on to the next movie.

"Burlesque" is on sale March 1, 2011 and is rated PG13. Drama, Musical. Written and directed by Steve Antin. Starring Alan Cumming , Cam Gigandet, Cher, Kristen Bell, Peter Gallagher, Stanley Tucci, Christina Aguilera.

Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.


New Reviews