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Betty Jo Tucker

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Burlesque: Film Review
By Betty Jo Tucker
Last edited: Saturday, December 04, 2010
Posted: Friday, December 03, 2010

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Betty Jo Tucker

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Make no mistake about it, "Burlesque" comes across primarily as a showcase for Christina Aguilera’s amazing vocal talent. I, for one, am thankful for the opportunity to watch and hear her perform on the big screen at last. What an incredible range and emotional depth she brings to her numbers!

The legendary Cher, who co-stars with Aguilera, also impressed me with her singing in this entertaining musical. I think Cher sounds as good as ever here. These ladies are no slouches in the acting department either, which isn’t always the case with movie musicals. My advice? Never mind about the film’s predictable, age-old Hollywood “musicals” plot. If you simply concentrate on the singing and dancing in Burlesque, you should – in the immortal words of Gypsy Rose Lee -- have “a real good time.”  


Written and directed by Steve Antin, Burlesque follows the adventures of Ali (Aguilera), a small-town girl who goes to Los Angeles to seek her fame and fortune. At the beginning of the movie, we get a peek at Ali’s terrific singing ability when she wows us with “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” After discovering how hard finding job can be in the big city, Ali discovers the Burlesque Lounge and feels intrigued with the show appearing on the stage there. She finagles a waitress job, then finally persuades boss Tess (Cher) to put her in some dance numbers. When Tess finds out Ali can belt out a song like a real pro, she decides to build a show around “the new girl.” It’s not surprising when other showgirls, especially Nikki (Kristen Bell) become jealous. Tess, however, faces problems of her own. Desperately needing the funds to keep her Burlesque Lounge afloat, she relies on her trusted assistant Sean (Stanley Tucci) to boost her spirits.


It’s a musical, so there has to be romance, right? Burlesque’s push-pull romantic theme comes to life as Ali and Jack (Cam Gigandet), a bartender at the Burlesque Lounge who befriends her, get to know each other. Clearly, they want to be more than friends, but Jack’s fiancée and a wealthy investor (Eric Dane) complicate things for them. It’s fun to watch Ali and Jack bantering with each other. I couldn’t help smiling at the cute chemistry Aguilera and Gigandet generate together in these roles.


I enjoyed Burlesque too much to complain about it. Still, the one short glimpse of Alan Cumming’s comical number left me wishing he had more camera time.


But back to the important elements of Burlesque -- singing and dancing. As an avid movie musical fan, I’m delighted that so many of the numbers are shown from beginning to end. Yes, some cut-away shots do happen, but not enough times to dampen my enthusiasm. Highlights include Aguilera’s moving rendition of “Bound to You” (which took my breath away), her tongue-in-cheek interpretation of “But I’m a Good Girl,” Cher’s soulful warbling of “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me, ” and the showgirl group numbers, choreographed by Denise Faye (Nine), which liven up the screen with their sexy, amusing, energetic fun. And, of course, the costumes dazzle us with glitter and glitz.


Encore!  I can’t wait to see Burlesque again.


(Released by Screen Gems and rated “PG-13” for sexual content including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material.)


Review also posted at ReelTalk Movie Reviews. 

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Books by
Betty Jo Tucker

Confessions of a Movie Addict

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Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick

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The Reel Deal: Writing about Movies

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