Burlesque (2010)

dir. Steven Antin

So much of Burlesque, from the title to Alan Cummings’ shameless Emcee character, is obviously lifted from Cabaret. Yet it would be difficult to find a movie further away from the intelligent style and substance of Cabaret. Christina Aguilera plays Ali, a woman who perfects her burlesque performance skills seemingly by wandering around the streets dancing to pop songs on her iPod. She joins the troupe at Tess’ (Cher) burlesque house, and a number of improbable consequences ensue. Ali rudely crashes at the bartender’s house, taking advantage of his space and his things, so naturally he falls in love with her. Kristen Bell plays a jealous dancer who zeroes in on Ali as her chosen arch nemesis, for no real reason except, well, she’s there. There’s an amazingly contrived plot which involves building zones and air rights, culminating in Tess battling to save her club despite seemingly never bothering to pay her bills. It’s peppered with extravagantly dumb song-and-dance numbers, and obviously Aguilera is a brilliant singer and performer, but the whole thing would have worked better as an album promotion than an actual film in its own right.

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