Surprisingly enough, Cher’s lips are hardly the fakest, most unsightly thing about Burlesque. Not when compared to the cringe-worthy performances, the ear-splitting musical numbers and a screenplay so ridiculously campy, it may very well cause straight men to see the rainbow.
It makes sense that the man responsible for this flamboyant turkey is Steven Antin, the openly gay producer of the star-searching reality TV series Pussycat Dolls Present: Girlicious. For his sophomore feature, Antin hasn’t really written Burlesque, he has merely spooned the story out of a can labelled ‘Instant Musical: Just add eyeliner.’
The film follows Ali, a sweet small-town gal with big dreams of becoming a star performer. This is a pipe dream for most, but since Ali looks and sings a heck of a lot like Christina Aguilera, her chances are uncharacteristically good.
With nothing holding her back – she has no family, of course – Ali makes her way to LA, stumbling across a bohemian musical club called The Burlesque Lounge. Despite having no windows, the club is considered to have the “Best view on Sunset Boulevard” due to its raunchy performances. The film’s teen-friendly rating, however, prohibits the view from being truly great. Unlike Showgirls, Burlesque is just one big tease.
Upon entering the club, Ali meets her future lover Jack (Cam Gigandet), future employer Tess (Cher) and future dancing rival Nikki (Kristen Bell). I say it like it’s easily foreseeable because, well, it is; Burlesque is so dreadfully predictable, it’s almost insulting how Antin feels the need to prolong the inevitable. Worse yet, his hyperactive direction doesn’t slowdown for a second to find a real character beneath all the fishnets and feathers, effectively substituting honest-to-goodness sentiment for mawkish TV-movie melodrama.
Unable to explore her character beyond what is written on the page, Christina Aguilera’s performance as Ali is about as hollow as you’d expect from a pop star trying her hand in acting. While there’s no denying she can sing, her nonstop vocal acrobatics are about as pleasing to my ears as gravel in a blender. She’s just not my cup of tea.
Cher, who is looking more and more like a type-4 recyclable, is the source of many unintended laughs as the fiery manager willing to do anything to hold onto her financially-troubled club. She’s like a mother to all the dancers, albeit a mother who occasionally slips into a sequined leotard.
And on that note, let’s just be thankful Burlesque isn’t in 3D.