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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Burlesque

It’s a Xerox of a Xerox of an Original. Steve Antin imitates Rob Marshall imitating Bob Fosse.

Cher plays… “Cher”. Stanley Tucci queens it up to great effect, The Magic Homosexual, really. Cam Gigandet plays The Boy. Kristen Bell is objectified as The Villain. And a series of cardboard cutouts posing as actors turn up, including Julianne Hough and Eric Dane, who previously managed to be boring even in a sex tape three-way. Peter Gallagher is wasted, but compared to the abusive (to the audience) non-use of Alan Cumming, he got off light.

And Christina Aguilera doesn’t so much act as glow… assisted mightily by the permanent gauze from Cher’s camera that the somehow infected every frame of the film. I am conscious of Ms Aquilera, but had no idea how many ways there were to photograph her hair and boobs until this film. Seriously. I expect there to be a website dedicated to the passion Steve Antin shows for his starlet’s bust and the many ways he features it in frame, from loosely hanging to practically strapped down. Is she an A-Cup or a C-Cup? I don’t know. But the framing constantly demands high torso attention. And her face is equally unpredictable in the angles from which it is shot. At one point, I thought she was a new character I couldn’t remember. Generally, a director and a DP figure out how they want to shoot an actress and strive for consistency. Here, Cher and Tucci are very consistent… and the novice seems to be shot from every angle known to man.

But back to the boobs…

Seriously… I would be fascinated by the behind-the scenes documentary on The Underwear of Burlesque. It manages to be the most exposed, least threatening display of flesh I have ever seen in a film. Even more fleshy than Showgirls, really, though none of the naughty bits ever turn up. Because of the way Antin shoots and cuts, it’s something like a PG-13 pornographic butcher shop… parts and parts and parts and parts, but the only real hint that anyone has used them successfully is a third act pregnancy. With shot after shot of beautiful body parts, I found myself wondering how these painted on outfits worked… were they comfortable… how were they lined? I don’t think that was the goal… their goal or mine. i just wanted to be able to stare at something sexy for more than 36 frames at a time. Even the central romantic relationship is so much tease and so little please that in the real world this character – who spends as much if not more time obsessing on himself as the girls in the bar and the girl in his home – he have either thrown her out or become a violent asshole.

Then the script manages to be so much more complicated than the 3 ideas that Mr Antin seems to have in his head for this film that it becomes either laughable or infuriating. The entire movie has a case of blue balls. Just get on with it!

And did I mention that the original songs are stunningly forgettable? For the first act of the film, the dancers lip sync covered standards. Why? Don’t know. But at least the songs are good. All of a sudden, when they start singing for themselves, they inexplicably start singing new material that is desperately trying to sound like standards. Was it budget? Was it ego? Was it the need for album cash flow? Don’t know. But a musical with songs you can’t remember… oy.

And yet…

I can’t say that Burlesque is a painful movie experience. It is a little sexy. It is a little funny. It is a little compelling. It isn’t any of these things to the degree that the films clearly intends. But in the end, it is a series of music videos. Not original ones. Not special ones. But the film asks so little of you and changes speeds so relentlessly that it’s hard to ever get serious about disliking it. It’s like a bag of Halloween candy. Kids are willing to eat it all even if the bag isn’t filled with their personal favorites. Coffee Nips? For a 7-year-old? Okay… there are some Sour Patch Kids just a grab away,

Don’t get me wrong. This movie is crap. But it’s the kind of crap that does actually get to BETBF (Bad Enough To Be Fun).

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11 Responses to “Review: Burlesque”

  1. Piz says:

    This review is crap. Burlesque is HOT! I love the cast. I love the music. I love the look. And I LOVE CHRISTINA & CAM!

  2. scooterzz says:

    as i said going in, i knew it would be bad but, to be good, it had to be spectacularly bad…better than ‘showgirls’ bad….unfortunately, it just wasn’t bad enough to be good….still a keeper but i’d hoped for more/less….

  3. Shillfor Alanhorn says:

    Scooterzz kind of hit the nail on the head. I was kind of surprised that it was as competent and charming, in parts, as it was. I wanted it to be a howler; instead it was just sort of “meh.”

    I will say this, however: it is 100x better and more entertaining than the excruciating and ill-conceived trainwreck that was Rob Marshall’s NINE.

  4. Keil Shults says:

    Whatever happened to Veronica Mars? 🙁

  5. movieman says:

    How does Cher stay so remarkably, er, well-preserved?
    Is it all plastic surgery?
    Maybe she drinks virginal schoolgirls’ blood.
    Or formaldehyde.
    It’s actually kind of scary.
    But the movie itself is way better than expected/feared.
    Aguilera is surprisingly not terrible, and it was the first time I didn’t physically recoil from Cam Gigandet.
    Plus, it’s the only holiday movie you can take grandma and your tranny BFF to. That’s gotta count for something, right?

  6. Celluloid Kid says:

    “Whatever happened to Veronica Mars?”

    Right? Every time I see her in some generic, awful looking movie, I just feel sad. However, the fact that all of her non VM work has been crap, makes me think that VM was lightning in a bottle. I’m guessing Hollywood (or even her own agents) don’t know how to use her.

  7. LexG says:


    While there is very little chance I will see this, I can’t entirely hate any movie a) starring Christina Aguilera, who rules, and b) is directed by AWESOME STEVE ANTIN, aka Rick from LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN.

    This is like BUDDY REPPERTON directing a movie in 2010. How could you not root for it? Steve Antin = LAV, The Goonies, ACCUSED POWER, PENITENTIARY III POWER. Also brother of my personal idol JONATHAN ANTIN, super-smarmy hair stylist to the stars. Er, and also brother of Pussycat Dolls founder Robin Antin, which isn’t too surprising given the low-rent, garish, broom-closet look of this production.

    Also, is there an up and coming “cool” actor who just SCREAMS “instant comedy” harder than Cam Gigandet? For all I know, he’s the nicest dude ever and reads Chaucer in his spare time, but he comes off like the most vapid, hateful blank slate around.

  8. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Antin power yes. But was it ever as strong as paired with Monsoon power – thats a question for the ages. I remember when we were looking Inside Monkey Zetterland (which pulled in every Star friend favor and 15 producers) and Antin was the co-producer and his buddy Jef Levy was director. His previous film which is a tour de-Antin was Drive, which I think maybe 10 people have seen. He was a pretty cool cat who appeared very connected, the film was being handled by Curb whose founder was also an interesting character. I seem to remember that Zetterland was going to be the film that broke out Antin as a major player, but that titles and the laboured indie farce he was trapped in didn’t work out that well for his A List acting dreams. Its not actually that bad a film but I’m sure it feels prehistoric now. Lex don’t you think that Antin could been born the evil brother of Bruce McCulloch from Kids in the Hall?

  9. Walter says:

    If Cam Gigandet is in it- SOLD!

  10. LexG says:

    Totally on the Bruce McCulloch. And Monoson showed up on 24 a couple years back, and when his name popped up in the credits, I was STOKED… only to later in the ep barely recognize this nondescript 40-ish dude who had one line and had kind of handsome’d-out since his LAV/Friday the 13th Final Chapter heyday, this ’80s teen movie icon basically an extra getting smacked around by Jack Bauer. Eh, he’s still working, and Antin’s getting a nice second wind… Now what’s Joe Rubbo up to?

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