December 04, 2010

BurlesqueA Screen Gems Pictures release. Directed by Steven Antin. Starring Cher, Christina Aguilera, Cam Gigandet, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Eric Dane, Peter Gallagher, and Alan Cumming. Rated PG-13.

In the recent review for the computer animated Tangled, I stated that it follows the classic Disney animation formula. Well, audiences now have the musical Burlesque and to say it follows the classic musical formula would be on point. How closely does it follow? Let’s put it this way – it goes back, way, way, way back to the musicals of the ’30s to work its plot, which has absolutely no surprises. Ever heard the one about the country girl with the talent to sing or dance or both who comes to the big city to go for her dreams? Of course you have. In fact, even if you don’t like musicals. Here it is again, retold by writer/director Steve Antin. Yes, retold. And that’s not a putdown, it’s a fact. Cher and Christina Aguilera help Antin put it over, and can those two sing – oh, you already knew that.

Aguilera is the small-town girl named Ali who, as the film opens, decides she needs to get out and head for Hollywood. She pounds the pavement and comes across the club named Burlesque. She tentatively enters and who’s on stage but the club’s owner, Tess (Cher), who does the number “Welcome to Burlesque.” Ali immediately wants onto the stage. To get there she needs the help of the club’s lead bartender, Jack (Cam Gigandet), who directs her to Tess and her friend/confidante/stage manger, Sean (Stanley Tucci). At first they give her the brush-off. Jack gives her a job waitressing. It doesn’t take Ali long to run afoul of the club’s star diva, Nikki (Kristin Bell), but Ali has the last word. The girls perform lip sync to classic songs but not Ali; she has the big voice. When her time comes, she stuns everyone, from Tess to the girls in the show to Nikki to Sean to Jack to the slick Marcus (Eric Dane), a rich guy who always get what he wants. What he wants in this instance is the club. Tess has plenty of bills and the bank is calling. He also wants Ali. That doesn’t sit well with Jack, who takes Ali in when she needs a place to stay. The thing is, he has a girl back in New York. But this being the classic Hollywood musical blueprint, the audiences know everything will work out. It takes about two hours to do so, but it never feels that way thanks to Cher and Aguilera as well as Tucci and Gigandet.

There has to be a “well-done” thrown writer/director Antin’s way as well. He stages some smart, sassy production numbers – although the fact that the club’s stage starts out small and seems to get bigger as the film moves along until the final musical number would put a smile on the faces of musical directors past. It doesn’t matter though because Antin creates a sexy film with the women scantily clad and the men, well – Gigandet is shirtless and then some.

Antin gives Aguilera the bulk of the songs and she doesn’t disappoint. There’s no denying the woman can belt out a song and the good thing here is she doesn’t overdo it. She looks great as well and her acting is not that bad. She has good chemistry with Cher and even better with Gigandet. As for Cher, well, she’s Cher, who never seems to age – the legs, the body – and she plays her heart out in every scene. Antin is wise enough to give her a solo, one the audience is waiting for, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” complete with a single spotlight. She turns the power ballad into her new anthem.

But the most important thing Antin does is keep Burlesque out of the campy, cheesy zone it could have so easily fallen into. Watching the film you understand Antin takes all this seriously – the classic, small-town girl rises like a rocket to success. It all works and it’s the type of entertainment that Hollywood so often did but doesn’t anymore.

Too bad, because Burlesque shows that with the right director and cast, it’s still a formula that works.

Source: Wicked Local

1 Comment to "FILM REVIEW: Burlesque an old dance with new life"
  1. Eileen says:

    I LOVE BURLESQUE! Its such a fun and entertaining movie. Everyone is awesome! And I love Cam Gigandet and Christina Aguilera together! Their chemistry is off the charts! :)