“Did you notice the mistake in that movie?” my friend Sallie asked me as we left the cinema.
“The only mistake in that movie was Christina Aguilera’s acting,” I replied.
I went into Burlesque expecting three things: acting so bad it hurt, quality musical numbers and Aguilera’s ’90s strawberry blonde ’do to be cut off once her character made the big time. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (For those of you who haven’t yet seen the film, the latter point is the one that remains.)
The movie starts out with country Christina (Ali) quitting her job in a bar on a whim, and moving to the big smoke. She notices a burlesque bar one night on a walk through the city; “the best view on the Sunset Strip without any windows”. After seeing the girls perform a number, with Cher at the helm as club owner Tess, Ali begs Tess for a job onstage, but settles for working under bartender Jack (literally; but as if we couldn’t see that coming!) as a waitress.
When the alcoholic star of the show, Nikki, played by Kristen Bell, fails to turn up, Ali takes her place. Nikki is so incensed that she interferes with the music for the set, forcing Ali to use her spectacular voice—which previously no one had heard—to save the performance. Tess then begins to build her burlesque show around Ali.
This is where the film starts to get bearable, as we see more of Christina Aguilera in all her ’40s pin-up/voice-that-brings-down-the-house glory, and less of mousy, weak, annoying Ali.
There are some pretty good musical numbers in the film (a 2011 Golden Globe for Best Original Song doesn’t lie), my favourites being a dance-off between Nikki and Juliannne Hough to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and one of the only legitimate “burlesque” performances in the film, “Guy What Takes His Time”, where pearls and feather fans are used as props.
Really, though, the only things that saved this movie were Christina’s performances, Eric Dane’s face, Stanley Tucci in general, and Cam Gigandet’s cookie box scene. Google it.