Even if I had a soft-spot for musicals, “Burlesque” felt more like an extended and overlong music video than a feature length. Glittery, with everybody faking winks and smiles at the camera every now and then, and props, living or otherwise, silently littered the background in a setting that expanded and shrunk conveniently regardless of its fictional world’s rules and establishments sets from the previous scenes. Between the enjoyable song and dance sequences, the film crammed its prominent weaknesses, campy dialogue which probably intentional, a probably inadvertent comic relief through one-two banter between its colorful casts, and the absent of emotional spectrum provided by the leading lady, Christina Aguilera.
“Burlesque” is a yet another fairy tale about a young girl from small city (Iowa) tries to make it big in the big city (Los Angeles). Meet Ali (Christina Aguilera) who was just one day, pick up all of his savings working as a waitress in Iowa and go to L.A. where she chanced on a burlesque bar (honestly, I’m just aware that burlesque is an actual word), working her way from the bottom up under the watchful eye of its dedicated owner (Cher) and her stage manager (Stanley Tucci), other dancers (Kristen Bell, Julianne Hough, among others), a hopelessly in love bartender (Cam Gigandet) and occasional glances from Alan Cumming.
Christina Aguilera is alluringly sexy as hell, that was beyond doubt, and she got as Kristen Bell’s character pointed out at one point in the film, a mutated lung for a tremendously good effect. She’s a talented singer, heck, I could say that I’m her fan during her early careers, and her curves and revealing costumes were more than sufficient to provides a cover for her passable dancing moves. I wish I could say the same toward her acting skills. This is where the film had suffered from its inadvertent comedic tone. And the campy one-two banter I mentioned previously? That did more damage than it did good.
Between the enjoyable songs and dances which I loved immensely, at least more than I loved last year’s “Nine” songs and dances, and it should be noted that they were cock-full (pun definitely not intended) of teasing PG-13 sequences, the film puts itself in a limbo when it tries to squeeze a little plot it has to drive the film forward. Christina Aguilera is a very hard to watch, and while I’m guessing that her relationship with her love interest, as played by Cam Gigandet would send many giggles to teenagers, it’s a poorly written and don’t do justice to each characters or their relationships as a whole. I can’t root for them, I don’t care about them, and I found it hard to believe. Cher is well, Cher, just like she ever was thirty years ago. The only consolation of this ensemble came from Stanley Tucci who was very pleasant and impossible not to like and whatever happened to Kristen Bell? I remember fondly of her “Veronica Mars” day, but here, those days were seems like to come from an alternate universe.
As a final note, this film also features Julianne Hough, one of my favorite dancer, but she was disappointingly had a very little spotlight. Actually, to put it as a very little is still an overstatement. Might as well remove her name from credits.
My rating: ** / **** – Christina Aguilera sings all but two songs in this film which were credited to Cher. Songs wise, I like it. Even more uniformly than last year’s “Nine.” But, given the campy, cliche, and its inadvertent comedic tone, made this film more like a series of music videos rather than a full feature length. For the time being, I think, Christina Aguilera should better sticks with what she did best, singing.