Starring: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Stanley Tucci
Director: Steve Antin
Running Time: 119 mins
Burlesque is an American film about a small-town girl who moves to Los Angeles and joins a burlesque club as a waitress, but it isn’t long before she’s stunning visitors on stage.
Hammered by some critics as a so-bad-it’s-good movie musical, it’s really difficult to place Burlesque on a sliding scale of bad from good. On the whole, it’s not a great movie, with a terrible story and generally unmemorable songs, but it’s also a film that really knows how to put on a show.
Perhaps that’s the main point of it all. After all, the film is about a burlesque club, and while you don’t really care much for any of the characters, the musical scenes – of which there are a fair few – are without doubt the film’s highlight, firing astonishing energy into proceedings without hesitation.
In short, the biggest appeal of Burlesque is Christina Aguilera’s voice. If you think that Lady Gaga’s rendition of Shallow in A Star Is Born was impressive, then Aguilera’s pipes will absolutely knock your socks off, as she dominates every musical sequence in spectacular fashion.
Granted, A Star Is Born had a lot more depth and emotion behind the musical scenes, but there are points where Aguilera’s singing here is so flooring that you just don’t care – it’s an absolute pleasure to listen to her throughout the film, and she makes what could have been a car crash movie musical really quite impressive at times.
Coupled with good production design and choreography, this film works best as a series of music videos strung together. In between those music videos, however, is a tedious mess of nothingness, as we follow a painfully basic story of a burlesque club threatened with closure while its newest recruit gets caught up in all sorts of controversy.
The songs themselves aren’t especially memorable, but at least they grab you in the moment. The story, however, is utterly tedious, awfully predictable and pointlessly bland, with little in the way of captivating emotional depth, or even a good bit of humour to bring things to life.
With the exception of Stanley Tucci in an ever-charismatic performance, the lead actors here really don’t do much to save the story, with Aguilera’s acting stunningly dull compared with her electrifying singing, Kristen Bell never quite managing to pull off the villain role, and Cher just sort of there.
There’s not much else to say about Burlesque, apart from the fact that it’s a film that will entertain very few people, apart from a few select moments, which really will impress you. Despite a stunning central voice from Aguilera, it’s not a masterpiece of the movie musical, and it lacks the depth, charisma and intrigue of a decent story. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 6.3 overall.