Directed by Steve Antin. Starring Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Cam Gigandet.
“A variety show characterised by broad ribald comedy, dancing, and striptease.”
That’s what Burlesque means, for the uninitiated. However, the film, which has been directed by actor Steve Antin (The Accused, The Goonies and TVs 21 Jump Street), doesn’t have much ‘ribald’ comedy, barely a scene of mild nudity and not-so-hot dancing. Still, Burlesque has a very innocent charm about it that carries it through along with one or two deliciously likable characters.
Aguilera plays Ali, who wakes up one fine day, quits her small town and heads for LA hoping to make it big as a singer/dancer. As quickly as that happens she finds herself waitressing at The Burlesque Lounge, owned by Tess, played by good ol’ Cher, who is mother hen to all of her saucy performers.
I sort of miss the days when musicals used to be grand events, with wonderfully written songs and exceptionally choreographed dance numbers. I mean even all-time favourite Dirty Dancing was amazing and that was decades ago. Anyway, I’m just saying that shouldn’t ‘musicals’ be just that? Burlesque fails in this department. The songs are forgettable, the music average-ish and the dancing, well let’s not even stumble there. Do note, the score has been neglected from this year’s Oscar nomination list inspite of bagging a Golden Globe for the song You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me. Cher is venting on Twitter apparently: “We didn’t get a nomination 4 best song! That sucks! Diane’s song Is so beautiful! It’s hard to understand how u win Golden Globe 4 BEST SONG & not even get nominated by the OSCARS? Oh well it is what it is… the sun is still shining!”
But, for all that as so many critics and venerable reviewers will state while bashing this film, I didn’t mind it so much. It was cute, warm and relatively witty. Like this line when Ali asks the campy guy at the ticket counter whether the place is a strip club he replies: “Honey, the only ‘Pole’ in there is the girl called Natasha who serves drinks.” Of course, not everyone will get it.
My gripe is why the hell the characters weren’t fleshed out more. Cher’s relationship with her stage manager Tucci is interesting but plays on the sidelines. Kristen Bell’s character Nikki is the jealous diva of the show but her rivalry with Ali is tame. It’s been depicted almost like a seven-year-old stomping her feet because she can’t have her favourite doll. Aguilera manages to salvage some poor acting on Cher’s part though. And hello! Where was the big finale? Bit disappointing there.
If you want a feel relatively good — but not wonderfully good — film, then ladies and gentleman, the show has begun!