Rated PG-13 for sexual content including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material, 105 minutes
“Burlesque” is campy, ridiculous fun
Veteran singer Cher still has it. Pop singer Christina Aguilera’s voice is stunningly powerful. They’re the main reason to see the predictably campy rags-to-riches musical “Burlesque,” which teams the two unlikely performers together. It seems evident that a creaky, old-fashioned story has been fashioned around Cher and Christina; both charmingly strut through the movie in video-music form and own the film, even when the weak script can’t keep up with them.
The premise for “Burlesque” is quite simple. Aguilera is a talented small-town girl named Ali with big dreams and even bigger voice. She comes to Hollywood on the first bus out and finds it difficult to break out. She eventually finds a job in an old-fashioned club called Burlesque owned by Tess (Cher) built around some sexy dancers, including Nikki (Kristen Bell) and Georgia (Julianne Hough). A rich businessman (Eric Dane) wants to buy up the place, but Tess feels it still has some life in it, particularly when Ali finds her way in the show and turns the place on its heels.
“Burlesque” is a cheesy, hokey nod to all those old-fashioned musicals of yesteryear, where the movie’s dated story clearly belongs. The energetic music and the dancing are, unsurprisingly, the best part of the film; everything else in between is largely forgettable. Cher and Christina make for a good time; in her film debut, Aguilera shows she has a stunning voice and is a sexy, electric performer. However, her acting skills need a little work, even if her energy and bland charm help carry the film. Cher looks fabulous as usual and is always good for a quip or two though some scenes she resembles a caricature of herself in drag queen form, but she’s still a a great deal of fun.
Of the large cast, only a couple makes a memorable impression. Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) proves to be a decent singer and dancer, while the presence of Stanley Tucci, while fun, is only necessary for the benefit for Cher having a sidekick. Eric Dane along with Peter Gallagher, Cam Gigandet and Alan Cumming have little screen-time, or in Gigandet’s case, a powerful on-screen presence (Gigandet, of “Twilight” fame, is one of today’s blandest actors).
It’s also unsurprising that “Burlesque” seems like an extended music video with about as much depth; video music director Steve Antin’s unoriginal direction doesn’t add much emotional connection, though the film is directed in clear crowd-pleasing form. It’s unfortunate that Oscar-winner Diablo Cody (“Juno”) is credited with the weak script, though substantial revisions were likely made later on.
The songs, the dancing are bouncy, fun and will have your feet tapping by the “Burlesque’s” calculated ending. Cher and Christina are in full control the film, but you’ll hard-pressed to remember any of the story after you leave the theater.