‘Burlesque’ Lacks Flavor, Fun

by Leah Schroeder ‘13


When would it end? Twenty minutes of intrigue, followed by, well, nothing. Everything that happens is predictable and the end couldn’t come soon enough. When the credits finally start rolling, however, there isn’t even a satisfying end to prelude it.

Steven Antin’s “Burlesque” is boring, adding nothing to the same-old small town girl making it big plot that it tries to follow. The film’s Wikipedia page provides the plot with just as much entertainment value as and more clarity than the movie itself.

Ali (Christina Aguilera) leaves Iowa for Los Angeles, hoping to use her voice and dancing skills to make it to the big time. She discovers the Burlesque Lounge, a club that suffers from financial difficulties, and immediately desires to become a burlesque dancer. She approaches the owner of the club, Tess (Cher), for a job as a dancer, but is instead given a position as a waitress by the bartender, Jack (Cam Gigandet). Jack and Ali become friends and their relationship quickly grows.

When one of the dancers must leave the club, Ali successfully auditions for her place. A few days later, a problem with the vocal track causes Ali to sing and showcase her vocal talent. Ali becomes the star of the club, and Tess uses her popularity to earn the money she needs to keep the club.

‘Burlesque’ has so much potential: an all-star cast, two powerhouse vocalists in Cher and Aguilera, a plot with the possibility for fun. It seems hard to screw that up.

Even so, not all of the cast fits into their roles. Aguilera can sing and her acting is passable, but she dances so awkwardly that it seems unlikely that she would make it through any audition. And Ali is so bitter and cynical, that is was difficult to like her, let alone hope for her success.

Kristin Bell’s character, Nikki, is another dancer at the club and is supposed to be Ali’s foe. Bell, best known for her titular role on “Veronica Mars,” doesn’t really make sense as a brown-haired, tattooed, alcoholic burlesque dancer with an attitude problem. Her hair is distracting, her inability to dance is distracting and she is just catty, not mean enough to be the villain the role required her to be.

Nikki and Ali rarely confront each other and when they do engage, the status quo remains unchanged, leaving both equally disliked by the audience.

Ali may be unlikable, but it was still sweet to see the mother-daughter-like relationship form between Cher and Aguilera. Yet, the filmmakers never embrace the fact that they have two amazing singers, and never allow them to sing together. That is a major disappointment. It is nice to hear them alone, but you can hear that anytime. Here is an opportunity to create a completely unique duet.

It can be nice to know exactly how a film will end, but it didn’t work here. Any movie goer would recognize the storyline and know that Ali is going to save the club and live happily ever after with Jack, so believe me, this isn’t spoiling anything. Yet, Jack and Ali almost never say kind words to each other. That may be an attempt to keep the audience on its toes by adding complications, but it makes it seem almost impossible that the story could end the way it did.

There is no reason to see this movie once, let alone twice. There are no true laughs, no memorable moments, no standout performances. Just two hours of the average and the expected and much unrealized potential.