FilmMark Rudio

Too much bump, not enough grind

FilmMark Rudio

Last week Penelope and I went to see Burlesque. Not a show- the movie with Cher and Christina Aguilera. And Stanley Tucci. And Alan Cumming. It would be silly to even bother discussing the plot and bemoaning the lack of originality in the script's characters, dialogue and story. You're supposed to know all that going in, and at best hope to be surprised if just one of those elements surpasses the banality inherent to the movie's premise. Spoiler: there are no surprises to be found here. Everything is pretty much what you expect. Except for one very important thing.

The movie is made by hacks who have absolutely zero imagination. Which is too bad because Christina, Cher and Stanley are all great pleasures to watch. Cumming is just wasted here- I have to imagine he had some scenes left on the cutting room floor- why else would he have agreed to do this for such little screen time? Aguilera is especially good in this.

What keeps Burlesque from being great ala Chicago is the movie is essentially Chicago if Roxie had walked into the club that night and stayed put. From the moment Aguilera walks in the door everything is pretty much a done deal. That's certainly enough to make it entertaining, in some spots in a really big way, but the filmmakers, of which the most guilty of ineptitude being writer/director Steve Antin (the guy behind the Pussycat Dolls), have zero imagination to make the material something more and can't use the formidable talent he has on hand to any great effect.

Before her big number "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" Cher asks for a spotlight and then sings the entire song in the dark. Seriously- and without even one interesting camera angle. Three minutes of Cher and they can't figure out a way to make her look interesting nor craft one moment of iconic celluloid from the scene. In fact that's a problem with the entire film. There is almost nothing visually interesting about it all- no images that freeze in the mind and make the viewer go "Ah! That's Burlesque!" We have seen all of this before.

The smallest responsibility for that may rest with Aguilera, who is a true talent but doesn't look especially unique. If she were standing next to me on the street in regular clothes I wouldn't even recognize her. It's hard to create an iconic look with an average beauty- but if Rob Marshall could do it numerous scenes with Rene Zellweger, Antin should have been able to do it all over the place with Aguilera. Seems the best Antin can do is make an extended Pussycat Dolls video. There's a lot wasted talent on the ever-expanding (?) stage we never get to know in any way.

Still it's a fun, solid B movie.