If we could turn back time … we’d still want to see Cher in this campy hoot
Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane.
Rated PG-13. 125 mins.
Now playing wide release.
In Burlesque, pop diva Christina Aguilera plays a small-town girl with a big voice who leaves the heartland to chase a predictable dream in L.A. She lands a job as a cocktail waitress at the Burlesque Lounge, meets a couple of hot guys (Cam Gigandet and Eric Dane), builds a friendship with one dancer (Julianne Hough), makes enemies with another (Kristen Bell), and learns a few life lessons from Tess (Cher), a broke, weary, but totally hot burlesque goddess with a heart of gold.
Big surprise: It’s not a great script. The mortgage is due and the moneylenders lurk and gosh, the lounge needs a miracle to survive! But who will go see it for the plot, the hokey dialogue or the not-so-great acting from Aguilera (her character is hardly full-bodied, with a backstory that is even slimmer than her hips).
But do go see it, because the movie is exactly what its audience is looking for: A campy, sexy hoot. It struts. It’s fun. It’s funny. There’s some serious eye candy with Gigandet and a box of cookies. There’s Stanley Tucci, playing Sean, the surly gay manager of the lounge.
And of course, there’s Cher. Cher still has the glam to pull the clichéd Tess off — and she still has that voice. The ups and downs of her life (both Tess and Cher) can be summed up in one show-stopping number: “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.”
Burlesque is not supposed to be Cher’s movie, but she steals it anyway — along with Tucci, whose one-night stand with a potential life partner is heartwarming and real. Tucci may be playing a gay BFF to a burlesque queen, but Sean is not some kind of gay caricature. He’s the heart of a film that has no brain.
— Angela Wilson
It’s unfortunate that Cher and Christina Aguilera don’t get a duet on the Burlesque soundtrack. Wonder who was the bigger diva voting against that. But we digress. Fact is, yes, Aguilera has the voice and uses it with all its might on eight of the 10 tracks. Playing with soulful rock, jazz and ’50s throwback a la Back to Basics, she’s in fine form.
Opening with “Something’s Got a Hold On Me,” Aguilera sets the tone, belting out a strong intro and morphing into something from a Jerry Lee Lewis album. In “Tough Lover,” she does her best Little Richard with the high-pitched “whoos,” but still growls her own signature.
When the songs go more contemporary, they deliver some radio-ready tunes. “Express” and “The Beautiful People” are fun highlights and she delivers in the ballad “Bound to You.” She’s reliable that way.
Cher contributes only two tracks: “Welcome to Burlesque,” a cliche opening weirdly recalling Aladdin’s “Arabian Nights,” and “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me.” This one’s a beautiful gem for her. Oscar nom? Hard to say. But maybe. While never earthshattering, there is a lot of fun to be had on the album. Just hearing Cher again has a queer appeal all its own.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.