by Sean Lechowicz
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After nearly a decade, schlock masterpiece “Showgirls” has met its match. Calling “Burlesque” a train wreck does not cover the severity of its failure, nor does it cover the hilarity.
Small town girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) moves to the City Of Angels in pursuit of music super stardom. Shortly after relocating, Ali takes the top spot of a floundering burlesque venue run by hard-edged singer Tess (Cher). Ali and Tess team up in order to save their beloved music factory.
Does it appear as if something is missing from this synopsis? Well, there are two things missing: conflict and purpose. It’s obvious that the producers needed an excuse to get Cher and Aguilera singing on film. Characters are introduced without purpose, subplots are introduced without resolution, and then the credits roll.
The music is repetitive and forgettable. Aguilera’s powerful vocal chords don’t blend well with the sensuous songs and dances she’s performing. Cher does what she can with an oddly placed solo number about how she’s still relevant, but it’s just so in-your-face and random. Also, this scene is cut between Cher singing and approving grins from the club’s sound guy. Believe it or not, it’s even more awkward than it sounds.
Ali supposed to be a sweetheart girl next door, but Aguilera plays her like a despicable user. She is introduced to audiences by stealing from her boss in order to fund a voyage to L.A. After her house is burglarized, resident bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet) allows Ali to crash at his place while his fiancé is away for work. Later on, Jack’s fiancée prolongs her stay and he’s strapped for rent money. Naturally, he tells Ali she can continue to stay if she pays rent. Ali only agrees after kicking him out of his own bedroom and sleeping in his bed. This only seems fair after he saved her from shacking out in a cardboard box.
If anything can be learned from this film, it’s this: if you and your bride to be are in a rut, it’s okay to have sex with someone else. Stage manager Sean (Stanley Tuuci) actually passes this message along to Jack regarding Ali. Infidelity is certainly an odd way to endear a character to an audience.
It’s evident that you won’t witness legitimate filmmaking here, but “Burlesque” doesn’t skimp on the unintentional laughs. Aguilera’s juvenile delivery is entertaining and her relationship with Jack provides some of the most absurd moments of 2010. Jack and Ali’s first love scene comes after he performs a strip tease in cotton two-piece pajamas, which also involves a box of chocolate chip cookies.
The ending is so forced, resolving issues in the most convenient ways, it’s as if the filmmakers forgot that there was even a shred of a plot. Each character magically gets everything they want. Clearly director Steve Antin wants nothing to do with scenes that don’t involve Aguilera or Cher strutting their stuff on stage.
“Burlesque” has got the lousy acting, pathetic excuse for romance, and odd line delivery that midnight movie classics are made of. If you’re looking for a reputable cinematic experience, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Sean Lechowicz is a film critic and screenwriter from Chicago, as well as the world’s biggest Wall-E geek
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