Director: Steven Antin
Cast:Cher, Christina Aguilera,
Gigandet, Eric Dane, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Dianna Agron
RunTime: 1 hr 59 mins
Released By: Columbia TriStar
Rating: PG (Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.burlesque-movie.com
Day: 13 January 2011
Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a small-town girl with a big voice who escapes hardship and an
uncertain future to follow her dreams to LA. After stumbling upon The Burlesque Lounge, a
majestic but ailing theater that is home to an inspired musical revue, Ali lands a job as a
cocktail waitress from Tess (Cher), the club’s proprietor and headliner. Burlesque’s outrageous
costumes and bold choreography enrapture the young ingenue, who vows to perform there
Soon enough, Ali builds a friendship with a featured dancer (Julianne Hough), finds an enemy
in a troubled, jealous performer (Kristen Bell), and garners the affection of Jack (Cam
Gigandet), a bartender and fellow musician. With the help of a sharp-witted stage manager
(Stanley Tucci) and gender-bending host (Alan Cumming), Ali makes her way from the bar to
the stage. Her spectacular voice restores The Burlesque Lounge to its former glory, though not
before a charismatic entrepreneur (Eric Dane) arrives with an enticing proposal…
We’ve never been to a Christina Aguilera concert, but we know that this New Yorker is one hell of a singer. Her vocals are so powerful, they may just blow you off your seats if you weren’t holding on tight. So we may be exaggerating a little, but have you heard the songstress croon her lungs out in albums like Bionic (2010) and Back to Basics (2006)? Even if you are not a follower of popular music, you should have heard her on songs like “Lady Marmalade” from Moulin Rogue! (2001) and “Reflections” from Mulan (1998).
This girl is not to be messed with, we tell you.
So it’s only right that every respectable American recording artist goes on to make a movie. Look at Beyonce and Queen Latifah. Look at Mariah Carey and Britney Spears. Okay, forget the last two. Anyway, Aguilera laps up the perfect role as a small town girl who finds her way to Los Angeles, only to be enthralled by the lights and sounds of a neo burlesque club. There, she makes her presence felt and eventually performs on stage, but not before making enemies, finding friendship and exploring love.
Aguilera fits this role of a small town girl with a big voice aptly, considering how she belts out number after number in this 119 minute movie. She contributes eight out of the ten songs in this musical, and once again, she proves that she is a performer who commands presence, especially in today’s lackluster popular music scene. Besides experiencing her rule the sound waves, see her strut her stuff in songs like “Express” and “Show Me How You Burlesque”. In the Golden Globe nominated “Bound to You”, she emotes the pain and anguish of being in love, and it reminds us of Beyonce’s “Listen” in Dreamgirls (2006).
Aguilera is joined by Cher, who plays a former dancer who runs the club. Although she only performs two songs in the film, she is the emotional anchor here. The film’s second Golden Globe nominated song “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” is a heart wrenching tune which showcases the Academy Award winning actress’ well known deep contralto vocals. This is Cher’s first celluloid appearance since her cameo role in Stuck on You (2003), and her first starring role in a musical production - we really wonder why no one has approached her to do a musical film before this.
Aguilera and Cher fare well in the movie, as with supporting actors like the good looking Cam Gigandent as Aguilera’s love interest, the ever delightful Stanley Tucci as the nightclub manager, and the fresh faced Kristen Bell as the mean spirited rival. They are joined by Alan Cummings, Julianne Hough and Eric Dane in this Steve Antin directed movie.
But as commendable as the cast’s performances are, they are let down by a meandering script, which causes the movie to suffer a rambling pace one third into the story. There is nothing new to tell in this “small town girl makes it big” story, and you know a happy ending is in store for everyone.
As you get entertained by the musical numbers, you cannot help but get a feeling that the entire setup is a reason for Aguilera to perform on the neon lit stage, so that mere mortals like us who have not had the privilege to attend her concerts can get a feeling of what her powerful vocals are like.
(Watch this for the astounding vocals of our generation’s two greatest performers, and not the movie’s mind numbing formula)
Review by John Li