Who’s In It: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Eric Dane, Julianne Hough, Alan Cumming, Dianna Agron
The Basics: Small-town singer Ali (Christina Aguilera) runs away to La La Land and begs her way into waiting tables at a neo-burlesque joint run by Tess (Cher). Naturally, the club is in danger of foreclosure – until Ali unveils her powerful pipes and becomes Tess’s new main attraction, picking up a few love interests (Cam Gigandet’s bartender-musician and McSteamy himself as a rich playboy developer) along the way.
What’s The Deal: Less Showgirls or Glitter and more Cabaret by way of Coyote Ugly, Burlesque razzle-dazzles its way through a litany of familiar showbiz clichés and comes out, for the most part, with sequins and false eyelashes intact. The fault and the credit both go to writer-director Steven Antin, whose strengths lie in filming eye-catching musical numbers and making women look like goddesses. It’s far from perfect, but look past the clunky plot and first-time actress Christina Aguilera’s dramatic inexperience and the routines pop like glittery, seductive fever dreams. It may not give the best film musicals a run for their money, but Burlesque is the most indulgently fabulous time you’ll have at the movies this year, and maybe the only movie ever made that’ll have you thinking you’ve hallucinated yourself into a MAC photo shoot.
Who MakesTthe Biggest Surprise Splash: Not Christina Aguilera, though the difference between her leaden dramatic scenes and her sexy, confident performances is like the difference between “Genie in a Bottle”-era Aguilera and people-licking, fetishwear-clad Xtina. It’s Kristen Bell, who dives fearlessly into her role as a washed-up alcoholic veteran starlet resentful of the neophyte crooner with the “mutant lungs.” Slinking around in next-to-nothing like a bona fide Pussycat Doll, Bell wields her acerbic wit like a set of sharpened press-ons, ready to claw at the next girl who gets in her way.
Where It Stalls Out: At Cher’s big solo number. You can imagine that Cher being Cher and this essentially being Xtina’s movie, she demanded to have her own song/hit single about being strong enough to make it on her own. The result is five minutes of Cher in a spotlight on a darkened stage singing a self-empowerment ballad that brings the entire movie to a standstill. When she takes her mark and tells the DJ to cue the music, that’s your cue to take your bathroom break and go get more popcorn.
What To Invest In Before It’s Too Late: Famous Amos cookies. Let’s just say there’s a bit of inspired product placement involving Cam Gigandet’s junk and a strategically placed box of cookies that’s sure to give plenty of fans a subconscious craving as they leave the theater.