I knew the story of Burlesque before I even saw it. Stop me if you’ve heard this. Ali (Christina Aguilera) starts out in a farm town dump called Dwight’s bar, but she leaves for L.A. dreams. After she can’t get work as a professional dancer, she stumbles into Clu Burlesque, where she sees an extraordinary show put on by Tess (Cher) and her girls.
Tess isn’t interested in another wannabe, but Ali proves herself. On her rise up to the top of the burlesque game, Ali displays a secret talent that could save Club Burlesque from foreclosure. However, success also attracts temptations for Ali. She feuds with the other dancers and that flirtation with the model hot bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet) may or may not turn into more than friendship.
You know the story. It’s Funny Girl in lingerie. Burlesque has good music and dancing, so that’s all it needs. It’s no Step Up 3D but they put on a good show. They’re not as awesome as the “Hellcats” but their kicks are still impressive. It’s a high energy party full of fun camaraderie.
I really like this version of the archetypal story. They always have the doe eyed dreamers imagine they’re the stars. At least when Ali pretend sings to herself, it’s Christina Aguilera belting it out and doing real choreography, not some America’s Sweetheart lip syncing into a hair brush.
Ali absorbs the choreography like she’s downloading it from the Matrix. They’ve got montages where she practices her moves on the street. She’s Full Montying it. When they have to have a plot, the dialogue is witty with puns and inside jokes. How else do you want them to get through this plot? That nickname line is classic. They get catty too, and there’s high melodrama. Tess’s mentorship is honest and present. She’s not sure about her feelings, she’s just sharing them. That’s the difference between A-list writing and clichés. The A-listers give it a little life. Tess’s number two Sean (Stanley Tucci) gets some great moments of wisdom with a little more life than the usual wise old gay comic relief.
The film is definitely loaded towards Aguilera. Sorry, Cher fans, but at least Tess randomly comes in late one night to do a solo. They should throw that in more. That’s what movies are for, just have characters be awesome just to be awesome. Now it seems like that’s just how Tess rolls. She comes in to sing demos for the Oscar reel. Somehow they forgot to do a duet though.
I don’t understand the level of some critical hate though. Do they just hate evergreen stories every time they come back around? Okay, but do they hate fun too? A movie ticket price is a bargain for this level of A-list stage spectacle, and they point the camera at all the good parts so you don’t miss anything. You’ll be singing the songs all the way home. At least I did.