I sat down to watch Burlesque expecting the worst based off of the reviews I had read and that it had a lower star rating on Netflix than Sucker Punch, which is probably one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Burlesque ended up being better than I expected it to be, but it still wasn’t a masterpiece.
Burlesque follows Alice “Ali” Rose (Christina Aguilera), an Iowa girl that decides to pack her bags and head out to LA, her hopes high of becoming a singer. Once she arrives in LA and tries to find a job, she ends up at a burlesque club, named Burlesque Lounge, run by a woman named Tess (Cher). Tess isn’t looking for any singers—this is a burlesque club—and Ali decides to start working as a waitress under the eye of Jack (Cam Gigandet). When auditions are held to find a replacement for the pregnant Georgia (Julianne Hough), Ali auditions and is hired as a dancer after pleading with Tess that she can do this. The club’s star, Nikki (Kristen Bell), shows up late for work and drunk, so Ali takes Nikki’s part. Jealous, Nikki unplugs the music the performers are lip-synching to, only prompting Ali to start singing. So now Ali is the club’s new star as she sings and dances, charms Nikki’s boyfriend Marcus (Eric Dane, who I thought was in NCIS: Los Angeles, but is actually in Grey’s Anatomy) and dates Jack. Meanwhile, Tess is on the verge of losing the club, which would be replaced with condos by Marcus, unless she finds the money.
Burlesque is cliched and predictable. There’s the girl with the big dreams that comes from a small town to make it big in Los Angeles. The struggling club. The bitchy diva. All of these are familiar and make the film seem like something you know, but with a different twist. None of the stakes in the film seem very high, even with Tess possibly losing the club. You have a feeling throughout the movie that everything will be alright. As light fare, Burlesque is enjoyable, even with the cliched dialogue that includes lines like a character looking at Ali and talking on the phone about his future with someone else and saying, “I think I’m looking at mine.” Or Ali saying to Jack, “Do I look like I’m alone?” Or in a bit of early dialogue, Ali is buying her ticket and asks, “How much to Los Angeles?” The ticket agent says, “One way or round trip?” to which Ali replies, “You’re kidding, right?” Okay, that more so an example of the bad dialogue in this film. But you get my idea.
The film has fairly enjoyable performances. For a film debut, Aguilera gives a pretty good performance, but it isn’t remarkable. The only two actors that seem to give terrific performances in this film are Stanley Tucci as Tess’s righthand man, Sean, and Peter Gallagher as Tess’s ex-husband, Vince. Both of them seem stuck playing caricatures, Sean is a witty, catty, gay man while Vince is a harried ex-husband and investor.
The music mostly has a pop sound and is good, but not incredibly beautiful or mind blowing. That being said, Cher has a song called “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” which only seems to be in the movie to give Cher a solo ballad. Even in the context that this song has been prepared for an act, it still doesn’t make sense because it isn’t a song I think someone could do a burlesque act to.
The burlesque performed in this film, from what I understand of burlesque, seems closer to old school burlesque than what’s currently occurring in burlesque. There’s even a fan dance in the film, although I’m not sure if there are burlesque clubs in America are doing that. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they are still using that.)
I could nitpick all of the things that make no sense in the movie, like almost all of the songs are lip-synched but they also have an onstage band there what seems constantly. But the problem is that the movie doesn’t want to be something it isn’t, unless you count Netflix labeling it as a Drama as being something it isn’t. It isn’t a musical that seems like it was intended for greatness. It was just intended to be a fun movie with some catchy songs, which it seems to accomplish even though it’s incredibly flawed. After all, there are worse movies you could watch.