In Theaters: Nov. 24, 2010
Director: Steven Antin
Runtime: 119 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content, including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material
There’s a pivotal scene in the ‘Burlesque’ trailer where tiny Christina Aguilera takes the stage and releases a powerhouse voice, at which point the entire nightclub stops what they’re doing and takes notice. I would probably see the movie again just for that scene, but the remaining 115 minutes is sort of a hazy fog.
It’s a well-worn plot that finds aging diva Tess (played by Cher; seriously, her face is completely immovable, which is totally distracting) struggling to save her dying Burlesque Lounge in Los Angeles as flashy new buildings spring up around it. Tess is stressed to the max trying to pay two mortgages as creditors and real estate mogul Marcus (Eric Dane a.k.a. McSteamy on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’) are breathing down her wrinkle-free neck.
Enter Ali (Aguilera), a small-town girl who books a one-way ticket to L.A. in the hopes of making it big. With the help of kindly bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet, a.k.a. James in the ‘Twilight’ movies), Ali starts waiting tables at the club and thanks to a slacker dancer (Kristen Bell), manages to land a spot on stage.
Then comes the pivotal scene – the one where things fall apart on stage and Ali takes a chance and starts singing with that big voice of hers. “Raise the curtain!” says an awestruck Tess, and a star is born.
Remember when Cher knocked us out with her performances in ‘Silkwood’ and ‘Mask’? Don’t look for that here. It’s like she’s just playing herself in this movie, which I guess is the whole point. Aging star gives young ingénue a chance to follow her dreams. That’s all good, but the thin plot leaves something to be desired, especially when the young ingénue SAVES THE DAY! with the penultimate Big Idea.
Dane’s real estate shark is kind of a one-note character, and Peter Gallagher shows up for about two seconds as Cher’s ex-husband, as does Broadway great Alan Cumming. The stand-out males here are Stanley Tucci as Tess’s gay stage manager (what’s not to love about Tucci?) and Gigandet as a bartender who could have been seedy but ends up being sweet and nice with a big crush on Ali. It’s like puppy love, only taking place at a burlesque bar with half-naked dancers.
‘Burlesque’ would work better as a Broadway musical, only with writers who can produce better dialogue than “I will not be upstaged by some girl with mutant lungs!” Still, there is that pivotal scene, which is probably worth the price of admission if you’re a fan of musicals.
Info for Parents:
Sex/Nudity: Performers dance suggestively in skimpy costumes. A character picks up a person at a bar. A male character walks around naked to stir the interest of a woman, though the only thing shown is his backside – briefly. A couple kiss and are shown in bed under the covers.
Violence/Gore. A drunk dancer insults her mentor, which results in a tire iron being hurled at her car window.
Profanity: “a**hole,” “damn,” “bitch,” “sh*t,” “prick,” “hell,” one use of “f*ck.”
Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking at bars and parties. A character drives while under the influence of alcohol. A character shows up for work drunk and sneaks a drink while working.
Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 14 and older who like Christina Aguilera or movies with a musical theme.
Will Parents Like It? This soapy drama is high on music and low on plot, but includes a few scenes that are worth the price of admission.
Images: Sony Pictures