There are so many reasons you’ll want to go to the theater ready to dislike Sony/Screen Gems’ Burlesque… I mean, haven’t we all seen the girl-next-door succeeds-despite-the-odds stories in the likes of Flashdance, Showgirls, Coyote Ugly and – worst of all – Glitter?
Equally, there are so many reasons you’ll want to go to the theater ready to love Burlesque. From pop icon Cher and vocally gifted Christina Aguilera, to the uber-talented Stanley Tucci and Alan Cumming, there’s got to be an upside – and indeed, there are more than a few upsides to this incredibly fun musical.
Directed and written by actor Steven Antin, Burlesque brings together the dynamic lighting and choreography we loved in Dreamgirls together with the campy humor and romance that we love to hate in the above-mentioned cult classics. In reality, I’m pressed to find one person who hasn’t adopted one or all of these films into their list of all-time favorite musicals. Burlesque will be no exception.
Cher‘s jaded club owner Tess – half school marm, half retired party girl – is dry, irritable full of crass wit. Then she opens her mouth to sing, and sounds every bit as good (if not better) than anyone in pop music today. Her solo ballad “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” (written by the irrepressible Diane Warren) is mesmerizing.
Cher performing “Welcome to Burlesque”
Christina Aguilera‘s affable waitress Ali is purposefully irritating at first, but she really does grow on you. And when she sings… well, everything you thought to dislike about the character is forgotten anyway.
Christina Aguilera performing Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me”
Stanley Tucci is lovely as the amicable stage manager, Alan Cumming is as strange and magnetic as ever as Burlesque show host Alexis, Kristen Bell is deliciously mean as the jealous lead performer Nikki, and Julianne Hough is somewhat endearing as Georgia. Ali’s dueling love interests Marcus (Eric Dane) and Jack (Cam Gigandet) both do their part to make you root for one or the other, even if temporarily.
BET’s 106 & Park host Terrence J (credited as Terrence Jenkens) gets some good screen time as the easy-going club DJ, and dancers Coco (Chelsea Traille) and Scarlett (Tanee McCall) both rock it out in every performance. Meanwhile, Peter Gallagher as Tess’s ex-husband/business partner Vince and Glee‘s Dianna Agron as Marcus’s long-distance fiancé give a little umph when they are needed.
The point here is that every character made their mark in my experience watching this film. It is evident that Antin, who produced the Pussycat Dolls reality shows for his sister Robin Antin, has a true affection for this story that shines through in every scene.
The costuming (Michael Kaplan), choreography (Denise Faye and Joey Pizza), lighting and even background music (Christophe Beck, with executive production from Christina Aguilera and consulting from Tricky Stewart) all set a tone that keeps your interest, and isn’t that what your two-plus hour theater experience should be like?
Christina Aguilera performing “Express” (produced by Tricky Stewart)
Yes, the “wide-eyed girl from middle America walks into a bar thing” has been done, but so what? Pay no attention the little men behind the curtain (ie: the critics who are tearing this movie apart), because Steven Antin is our marvelous wizard in the world of Burlesque, and there’s enough magic here to make the journey worth your while.
Burlesque is in theaters today, November 24! Let us know what you think of the movie too!
Sidenotes: Steven Antin and Eric Dane are both originally from the Pacific Northwest (Antin was born in Portland, Oregon, and Dane is a native of Auburn, Washington). They make ’em good out there! Amongst the very talented background dancers, Rock Steady Crew Bgirl Jeskilz is doing her thing!
Clips and trailer from Hollywood.com