A musical with such a stellar cast has no excuse for being boring, but Burlesque starring Cher and Christina Aguilera is a tough slog. Neither inventive in its plot or its treatment, the film borrows heavily from such iconic musicals as Cabaret and Chicago, but can’t seem to replicate even the sheer energy of those films.Aguilera stars as Ali, a small-town waitress with big dreams who buys a one-way bus ticket to Los Angeles, determined to change her life. She sets her sights on a job at the Burlesque Lounge, an establishment on Sunset Strip run by the tough talking Tess (played by Cher, looking straight out of a Tim Burton film), who takes her under her wing subsequently and turns her into a star.There’s an unnecessary subplot about a property developer threatening to take over the club if Tess can’t pay the bills, and another one involving an inevitable rivalry between the club’s reigning star Nikki (played by Kristen Bell) and the new entrant. Equally predictable is the heroine’s romantic track with a caring co-worker that is threatened when she’s wooed by a Richie Rich big-shot.
The script is old and dated, but the musical set-pieces are occasionally entertaining. We know Aguilera can belt out a tune, and she gets a dozen opportunities to show off; sadly Cher doesn’t get more than two. On the whole, Burlesque is cloaked in a sense of been-there-done-that, because everything feels so familiar.
I’m going with two out of five for Burlesque. It’s got an assembly line of dancing girls showing skin, and it’s still not much fun. Such a shame!