Burlesque can’t decide if it wants to be a serious musical, a la Chicago, or a piece of guilty-pleasure trash, a la Showgirls. As such, it’s stuck in the middle—too cheesy to be good art and not nearly fabulous enough to be good camp. It needed, frankly, more catfights, more glitter, more transvestites! Instead, it’s an earnest story of small-town girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) who lands a waitress job at a burlesque club in Los Angeles, with dreams of being a star. Cher plays the tough (yet tender) owner of the club, who resists Ali at first, but eventually sees that the kid’s got moxie to burn!
Stanley Tucci is on hand, natch, playing Cher’s loyal gay sidekick. And for reasons unknown, Alan Cumming is also in the film, albeit briefly, playing the coat check boy (or somethin’). (My theory: They got their big-get Tucci after they had already cast Cumming and didn’t have the heart to tell him he was no longer in the film.)
Kristen Bell plays a rival performer, but they don’t even bother to make her that nasty. She’s more of a misunderstood bad girl. How lame.
Aguilera is surprisingly natural as an actress and, Lord knows, the girl can sing. But even her presence feels slightly off. The film showcases her in such a way, it’s like they think they’re introducing her. Also, if you’re going to have Cher and Aguilera in a movie together, here’s a thought—have them sing a duet. In a true “I left the baby on the bus!” moment, Burlesque forgets to do that.
The super hot Cam Gigandet plays the (often shirtless and strangely be-hatted) bartender/love interest for Ali. He has a young Brad Pitt vibe and, I think, could be the next big thing. As for Aguilera, she once was the next big thing—12 years ago. (Now that’s the kind of cattiness this film needs!)