Burlesque (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/12/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Simultaneously brilliant and terrible, this has instant camp classic written all over it, thanks to some fabulous musical numbers, over-the-top performances and a script crammed with so-bad-its-good dialogue and industrial strength, neon-lit cliches.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Steven Antim, Burlesque stars Christina Aguilera as Ali, a small-town girl who heads for the bright lights of LA, intending to make it as a singer-dancer. After a series of failed auditions, she winds up at The Burlesque Lounge, run by glamorous proprietress Tess (Cher) and her devoted stage manager Sean (Stanley Tucci), where she charms barman Jack (Cam Gigandet) into giving her a waitressing job and keeps an eye open for stage-based opportunities.

Before long, Ali gets her big chance and soon she's wowing the patrons and making an enemy of alcoholic headline act Nikki (Kristen Bell). At the same time, she catches the eye of handsome financier Marcus (Eric Dane), who's trying to buy the cash-strapped club for his own nefarious purposes.

The Good
Aguilera has the odd dodgy moment (her shouty scenes come across as brattish and don't really work) but mostly acquits herself well in the acting department, while obviously nailing the song and dance numbers. Cher is equally good (despite being botoxed and soft-focussed to the gills), but the film is roundly stolen by Stanley Tucci and Kristen Bell, who get all the best lines and are clearly enjoying themselves.

The film's saving grace is the musical numbers, which are catchy and impressively staged, even if they are mostly derivative in nature, with copious steals from the likes of Cabaret, Chicago and Moulin Rouge. There are also several so-bad-it's-good moments (such as Kristen Bell screaming “I will NOT be upstaged by some slut with mutant lungs!” or Christina getting a make-up lesson from Cher) that will ensure the film's status as an instant camp classic.

The Bad
That's not to say the film doesn't have problems – Cam Gigandet is a fairly wet romantic lead (their love scene is laughably awful), Dane manages to be wooden and smug at the same time and Alan Cumming is completely wasted as the MC. And then there's the small problem of the fact that the film doesn't seem to know what burlesque actually is ...

Worth seeing?
This is unadulterated, self-aware trash, but it's undeniably entertaining. Also, if you loved Coyote Ugly, Showgirls or even the underrated Crossroads, then Burlesque has your name written all over it and you can go ahead and add another star.

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Burlesque (M)
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Content updated: 17/09/2019 21:25

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