How is it that filmmaker Steve Antin has powerhouse actors such as Cher and Stanley Tucci in his latest film and it still manages to come off as just another Glitter? I love Cher. I love Stanley Tucci. Heck, I love Christina Aguilera … as a singer.
I had high hopes for Burlesque. The stars I named above were quite a draw for me. The trailer looked engaging. And, the premise is based on a Broadway show. So you know I was excited to see the film. That excitement took a nose dive by the first half hour of the film.
Chicago this film is not.
In Burlesque, Ali, played extra by Aguilera, leaves her small Iowa town for the City of Angels to become a singer and a dancer. With a killer bust and a great body, she thinks she can infiltrate the performance scene right away — which doesn’t happen.
She has to earn her stripes, like everyone else. She takes a chance and works in a cabaret lounge as a waitress with big dreams of being one of the sexy women on stage in a burlesque show. Eventually, she does make it on to the stage.
The subplot is that Tess (Cher), who owns the Burlesque club, is about to lose it to creditors if she doesn’t raise enough money to meet her financial obligations. So, naturally, the wide eyed girl from Iowa is the one to save the day. (Insert eye rolling here.)
Antin, who brought us gems such as Chasing Papi and Gloria, should have sought the advice of veterans before pushing forward with Burlesque. The editing is choppy in the beginning. The main story has no weight. The performance numbers, while mostly engaging, don’t seem to mix well with the speaking parts. The set feels claustrophobic. And, there is a misuse of some of the actors in their full capacity.
Aguilera isn’t a good actress. She’s an excellent singer, though. Whenever she sings, I get goose bumps. Had Antin not fitted Aguilera with a bad wig and let her be the voice, instead of the body, he may have had a different and better film. It’s hard to ask a diva to pretend she’s from a small town and a nice person, when she’s got harlot written all over her from the beginning.
Cher has two musical numbers. Her Burlesque is great and subdued for Ms. Cher. But her Last of Me leaves a lot to be desired, although, her performance as Tess, as a whole, gives the audience something to look forward to. Cher owns the screen in a way that Aguilera hasn’t quite mastered, yet.
Tucci’s Sean is a riot. He brings that ease to the Burlesque club and, mainly, to Tess. Other actors of note include Eric Dane as Marcus, a wealthy businessman who specializes in overpriced high-rises. Julianne Hough and Kristin Bell play dancers named Georgia and Nikki, respectively.
Cam Gigandet plays Jack, Ali’s roommate.
I understand that there is a need in Hollywood to adapt all of the great works of books, Broadway, and television into films. However, Antin has to realize that an adaptation based on a popular Broadway show with a core fan base still needs to be made well. Just because Mariah Carey stars in Glitter doesn’t mean it is a great film. It’s actually one of the worst films ever made. The same holds true for Burlesque.
I really wanted to like Burlesque. I love the musical numbers, the costumes and the singing. But the rest of the plot is throwaway and not worth the $15 at the movie theaters.
Kimberly Grant may be reached at KAliciaG@aol.com.