Monday, April 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....BURLESQUE (2010)

Ladies and Gentlemen--Gene Simmons!  No, wait....
1) Anyone who wants to convince you this is anything but a vehicle designed to sell you on how wonderful Christina Aguilera is should be shot. From the first frame to the last, this films grovels at Ms. Aguilera's feet; she overcomes all obstacles handily, she solves everyone's problems, and she is lovingly watched over by the camera.

2) Even though there are definite nods toward the art of Burlesque--particularly the way Alice seems to pour over written histories of the artform--this is obviously Steve Antin retrofitting an old-school backstage soap opera as an Aguilera vehicle.

3) Imagine my surprise seeing Alan Cummings in the credits. Cummings' presence makes sense--this is a man, after all, who made his name playing The MC in the Natasha Richardson revival of Cabaret. Imagine my further surprise to discover that Cummings is wasted in about four scenes, three of which assign him only one line, and one musical number.

4) Even though her character is woefully underdeveloped--the whole revelation of some form of friendship between her character and Cher's Tess--and seems to be there for Aguilera's Ali to score points off of, Kristin Bell attacks the role of Nikki with gusto and, she does a number of musical numbers dressed in lingerie. Partially see-through lingerie. This is always a win in my book.
THIS is the real reason I went to see this film...

(Looking at these last two statements, you have to wonder if there are some 'deleted scenes with both Cummings and Bell on the cutting room floor).

5) I give Antin credit for, after a bit, trying to transpose the musical numbers with certain key scenes so that the songs act as a greek chorus. Of course, it's done in such a massively hamfisted way that I'm not sure if the attempt was successful.

6) What's Gene Simmons doing in this movie--oh, wait, it's Cher.

7) What's Stanley Tucci playing a doughy gay man who's Cher's partner? No, it's not a joke.  He seems to be having fun, though.

8) The weird thing about the romantic angle of this film is that Aguilera has more chemistry with the 'bad guy', Eric Dane's MArcus, than the cookie cutter bartender/composer, Cam Gigandet's Jack. That being said...

9) This is one of those films where no one is really a bad guy (perhaps the key line in the entire film is when Ali tells Marcus 'You're not the bad guy, just the wrong guy')...and while it's refreshing to have Marcus turn out not to be mustache-twirling evil, the soapiness of the films begs for someone a lil' over the top.

10) So after the club is saved, they renovate overnight to double the capacity and allow for a massive theater-in-the-round style stage with 'Burlesque spelled out in letters massive enough for Aguilera and crew to stand on them? And they decide to celebrate this with a very...Madonna-esque musical number that might as well be renamed 'We Wanna Be Vogue'? Really?

In short--it is what it says on the tin and doesn't give you anything if you're in the mood for this sort of thing, it's cool. And besides...Kristin Bell in a sheer pair of panties and a bra throwing diamonds win.

I saw this at Movieworld, a small eight-screen theater that is apparently one of the absolute last independent film venues in NYC. It was an extremely surreal experience, as it featured no Firstlook and utilized old, old, primitively CGI'd interstissals...the trailers included Sucker Punch that only made me drool all the more and Black Swan....and, on the other end of the cool-o-meter, Little Fockers and Just Go With It, both of which filled me with dread--but none as worse as the sight of Ben Stiller with greying temples....

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