- Running time:
- 116 minutes
- Cher -
- Christina Aguilera -
- Eric Dane -
- Cam Gigandet -
- Stanley Tucci -
Small town Iowa girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) heads to Los Angeles with dreams of song and dance success in the big city. She lands at the Sunset Strip’s Burlesque Lounge operated by Tess (Cher), who is skeptical of Ali’s skills until she realizes the girl can sing like Christina Aguilera. Soon enough, Ali is headlining the club, sparking a rivalry with former star Nikki (Kristen Bell, delightfully bitchy) and romancing eyeliner-sporting bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet, suitably hunky). But Ali’s rise could be short-lived if money problems force Tess to sell the club to land developer Marcus Gerber (Eric Dane).
The buzz: Pop tart Christina Aguilera finally takes the plunge and makes a movie, years after her contemporaries—Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore—hit the big screen to mostly embarrassing results. (Moore, incidentally, does the best work of her career in “Burlesque” box office rival “Tangled.”) But Christina’s debut isn’t the only hook for this rare original big screen musical. It’s also the first major role in 11 years for Oscar winner Cher, and the first time the music icon has ever performed songs in a film.
The verdict: Early speculation pegged “Burlesque” as a so-bad-it’s-hilarious camp classic to rival Mariah Carey’s “Glitter” or the immortal “Showgirls,” but don’t jump for those Razzie ballots so fast. Yes, “Burlesque” has a rudimentary story (complete with lines like “Have you read this letter from the bank?”) and little dramatic credibility, but it’s practically bursting at the seams with self-effacing charm and genuinely knockout musical performances. Aguilera makes do with the acting stuff (better than Britney and Jessica, about equal to Mandy’s average), then really delivers in her seven numbers. By now we know the girl can sing, and “Burlesque” proves she has the screen charisma of a natural born movie musical star—a transition not everyone is lucky to achieve. Maybe in time she’ll age into a screen diva as seasoned and natural as Cher, who elevates the film whenever she appears by showcasing nimble comedic skills and lovingly riffing with Stanley Tucci as her gay buddy sidekick. If only fledgling director Steven Antin held back on the fast paced editing to better spotlight the dancing, “Burlesque” could’ve been a true musical treat. As it is, the movie tells a pretty hoary old story, but does it with just enough style and conviction to get by.
Did you know? Cher gets at least one line that would be right at home in “Showgirls,” the provocative question: “How many times have I held your head over a toilet bowl while you threw up everything but your memories?”
Movie theaters and showtimes for Burlesque in Cincinnati.
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