Starring: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Cam Gigandet, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher
Director: Steve Antin
Writer: Steve Antin
Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli
Original Score: Christophe Beck
Running Time: 119 Mins.
Let’s face it, those people going to watch Burlesque knowing it is a “musical” and stars Christina Aguilera and Cher are unlikely to be seeking emotional depth, surprising and engrossing plot-lines or Oscar calibre acting, with the exception of the ever excellent Stanley Tucci of course! What they will likely be expecting is Aguilera belting out songs like there’s no tomorrow along with a retread of any small town girl seeking fame under the big city lights against all odds film you have ever watch, yes this is Showgirls minus the nudity. Coyote Ugly with a voice. 8 Mile minus the rapping…you get the idea and if this is your idea of fun Burlesque should entertain, even if it won’t remain with you by way of memorable songs or anything else that strikes a chord beyond the credit roll.
What stops the film becoming a “classic” in its field is down to two things, one of which can’t be helped while the other proved a hindrance to the film from the off. Firstly comes the fact that this is a tale told far too many times before, and much better and more memorably to boot, there isn’t quite enough of any of the elements that could have helped it stand out as a cheesy cult classic. In desperately wanting to cleave close enough for the tween/teen Aguilera wannabe’s to be able to watch the more raunchy aspects have been toned down to a level that can be seen as acceptable for the under 15’s. What this means is that we have something closer to Cabaret with a hint of Burlesque styling, no nipple tassel’s here I’m afraid
Aguilera herself veers between very good (at singing, obviously) and average, not a great thing for your leading lady to be, though plaudits to her for being considerably better than Britney Spears was at acting as a character that was basically herself but not as good as Eminem. Her plight doesn’t ever convince, something not helped by the glowing haze she is constantly shot in as if she were some kind of angel brought down to Earth to rejuvenate Cher’s cabaret club!
Though that said the direction is at least unique in its styling, all low lighting with spotlight’s glowering onto the sets as if every one were a stage, it means that the film is much more visually arresting than Chicago and last years excreable Nine, but quite some way from the dynamism of Moulin Rouge (the musical that this bears closest resemblance to in style). That it isn’t a true musical works to its credit as well, the numbers largely by Aguilera but with a couple of belters from Cher don’t necessarily further the story but always offer welcome breaks from the dreary slog of the dot-to-dot predictable plotting that sees strands never fully formed (a rivalry with Kristen Bell, a bad boy romance).
So with Aguilera providing the voice and moves it is left with Cher (and her plastic face) to add a little of old school class, and a motherly figure, and in particular the always stand-out Tucci whose scenes add the only intentional laughs though opposingly Alan Cumming seems like a side-note and s wasted in only two very brief, and thankless, scenes that make you wonder if the makers were concerned that there may have been a little too much flamboyance already, though who could blame them!
Burlesque is forgettable, but provides a sporadically enjoyable experience with enough moments to make it a frivolous and glossy watch, which is what one suspects was the intention!