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Burlesque Movie Review


Burlesque Movie Review

Title: Burlesque

Directed By: Steve Antin

Starring: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Julianne Hough, Eric Dane, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Stanley Tucci, Dianna Agron

It’s great to put your assets to good use, but if you want your film to offer an entire package, other elements need to be considered. In the case of Burlesque, writer-director Steve Antin has Christina Aguilera on the brain and nothing more. Clearly this tunnel vision works well when it come to vocals, but just about every other component is practically ignored. As good as her voice is, if you don’t have the proper camerawork to capture the action, adequate editing to make the visuals comprehensible or a well-developed story to engage viewers, you might as well have just made a CD, not a feature film.

Burlesque stars Aguilera as Ali, a small-town waitress who’s fed up with her minimal existence and craves the spotlight. She follows her dreams straight to Los Angeles, but quickly learns that a city change doesn’t mean instant success. After a number of failed auditions, Ali comes across The Burlesque, a nightclub with “The best views on the Sunset Strip.” The place is owned and run by Tess (Cher) with the help of her ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallagher) and loyal assistant Sean (Stanley Tucci). A barrage of girls hit the stage each night to wow the crowd with dance and lip-synching routines. Unfortunately, even there, a job doesn’t come easy. After being rejected by Tess, Ali takes it upon herself to go to work for the bartender, Jack (Cam Gigandet).

Their relationship goes from business to personal when her apartment is ransacked and she’s forced to bunk down at his place. The only thing stifling this budding romance is Jack’s fiancée who happens to be out of town for a few months. As things heat up at home, they heat up at work, too. Ali finally gets her chance to audition to dance on stage and makes the cut. When a music malfunction mutes the vocals, Ali takes it upon herself to sing the tune and blows away not only the audience, but Tess as well.

The only thing the slightest bit fresh about Burlesque is well, Burlesque. The club makes for a fantastic setting and the style of entertainment is absolutely mesmerizing, but Antin completely dilutes the concept with every “small town gal moving to the big city” cliché imaginable. Not only is Ali a naïve girl from Iowa, she’s a struggling waitress who’s seemingly all alone in this big world and happens to harbor an immense amount of talent that, of course, is discovered and finally appreciated. Can you say Coyote Ugly? In fact, the scene during which Ali returns home to find her apartment in ruins and secret stash of cash missing is eerily similar to poor Violet Sandford’s situation in that 2000 film. Keeping with the Coyote Ugly connection, Tess is basically the bar owner Lil, but with a much deeper voice and a plastic face. And we can’t forget our quintessential bitch determined to make the newcomer’s assimilation as difficult as possible. In Coyote Ugly it was Rachel and in Burlesque we get Kristen Bell as Nikki.

It’s one thing to reuse an overused concept, but at least make some sort of attempt to spice it up a bit. The only effort Antin seems to have made was setting his film in the club. Sadly, there’s just so long the visuals are able to hold your attention. The story is painfully predictable and not engaging in the least and that latter point is largely due to the miscast lead.

Yes, Aguilera is a great musical performer, but she can’t act. Sitting through Burlesque is kind of like having whiplash every ten minutes. Just when the story is about to put you to sleep, she belts out an outrageous tune accompanied by a mesmerizing dance routine. There are two slower ballads at the end of the film that flop due to their connection to the story, but otherwise, every song is quite enjoyable. However, what keeps these moments merely enjoyable and not wildly entertaining is poor camerawork. You’d think Antin’s experience directing music videos would have made this portion of the project easy, but it’s the musical moments that are the most awkwardly shot and edited parts of the film. In fact, some tunes are so poorly covered, it’s distracting.

Amongst these gargantuan problems, Burlesque has a few that could have been easy fixes. First off, there’s Aguilera. A song in the film featuring the singer? Fine, but she is not a leading actress. Antin had a perfectly capable star right on his set, Bell. She’s absolutely wasted in the role of Nikki, the club’s star dancer with a drinking problem. Even though her character is weakly represented throughout the film, Bell manages to make more of a connection to the audience than Aguilera who’s on the screen 90% of the time. Cher, on the other hand, fairs a little better. It’s actually quite impressive that Cher can express so much emotion without moving her facial muscles. She makes for a great stern yet motherly figure and her relationship with her employees is quite endearing.

Antin certainly tries and succeeds in some respects, but overall, this is just a cheap excuse for a musical. Burlesque actually seems to suffer from the same problem most 3D films grapple with, an overreliance on the added element, which ultimately turns it into a gimmick. Musicals are supposed to incorporate the songs into the film in a way that they enhance the story. Perhaps this is just because the story is so awful, but in Burlesque, the tunes seem to be there solely for entertainment and nothing more. Everything in this film is delivered at face value. It’s the story of a small town girl moving to LA, it’s a musical and it features two singing stars. As long as you don’t mind depth being devoid from this equation, Burlesque can offer some mindless entertainment for 100 minutes, but nothing more.

Technical: C-

Acting: B-

Story: D+

Overall: C-

By Perri Nemiroff

Burlesque Poster

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Film producer and director best known for her work in movies such as FaceTime, Trevor, and The Professor. She has worked as an online movie blogger and reporter for sites such as,, Shockya, and MTV's Movies Blog.



  1. Tallblonde

    November 26, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    Sorry, don't agree with your review of Burlesqe at all. I just came back from seeing it and I was honestly pleasantly surprised not only by the overall movie but by Christina's acting ability. She is far better than I expected and I thought the story was pretty good. The singing and dancing routines were very well done and I was entertained throughout. Listening to others as they left the theater, my opinion was shared by alot of others as well. I'd say go see for yourself… people who review movies are often cynical snobs who don't enjoy much… but hey.. that's just my opinion. ;)

  2. maykcruise

    November 27, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    This review is petty. I thoroughly was mesmerized by Christina and Cher. Burlesque is much better than Chicago because it has real belters compared to, what?, Renee Zellweger. I was blown away by the movie and I have heavily promoted this to friends in Facebook.

  3. Jt

    November 27, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment of this movie. Athough there were a few predictable parts, I still found myself drawn into the movie. Additionally, the acting by all characters, including the lead, was solid. I think that critcs are too busy looking for flaws and/or granduer that they forget to just enjoy the movie. That is the whole purpose of the “Entertainment” industry. I truly enjoyed this movie!

  4. Seth20

    November 28, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I am not sure we watched the same movie. All that left the theater with us were just as impressed. That little girl sure packs a lot of talent. She held up the movie..Cher was not very good..which is hard for me to say because I admire her so..but all together it was tremendously entertaining, talent galore and well acted.

  5. Ltljulian

    November 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    If we believed everything movie critics feed us about every movie, we'd end up staying home and missing every film that comes out of Hollywood. Burlesque is not the disaster that critics make it out to be. So what's the problem? Themselves. They (movie critics) go to the movies expecting to see a cinematic masterpiece every time, dismissing what they dislike as nothing but “mindless entertainment.” Mindless entertainment! What do they think we go to the movies for? Fellow moviegoers, ignore what negative reviews you read about Burlesque, leave all your biases behind and go see it anyway. You will be entertained and de-stressed. Remember, it's movie critics' job to be negative and if they cease being overcritical of movies, they will feel as though they'd given up their standards of truth, beauty and perfection (qualities they themselves lack or do not possess).

  6. Sass

    November 29, 2010 at 11:19 am

    I agree overall with this review – as it didn't break new ground and wasn't at the level of Chicago or Moulin Rouge. There were so many times I wanted to do a giant eye roll at the predictability or forcefulness of the movie. However, there were some good points: — I thought Aguilera pulled off being perceived as a sweet, nice girl – which is very contrary to how I view her in real life. So that is a win.

    – Every scene with Stanley Tucci was more than watchable. There were some really good lines in there and his relationship with Cher was very believable.

    – The overall message of the movie was still inspirational. Aguilera started at the bottom, believed in herself and seized every opportunity that came her way and made her dreams come true which I think resonates with the audience.

    – Cam is absolutely gorgeoussssss. I could stare at him all day.

  7. LaryOly

    December 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    As someone who is active in the REAL burlesque scene, I must make it abundantly clear that what you see in this movie is NOT burlesque, other than one number. The rest is just a rip-off of the Pussycat Dolls—which (surprise, surprise) are the creation of Steve Antin's sister, Robin—and a rip-off of so many other sources, all of which did it first and did it way better than it's done here.

    What is Steve Antin going to give us next? A movie called “Girl Group” with only one musical number in it?

  8. Mia

    December 9, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I disagree with your review of this film. I found it highly entertaining. I LOVED Christina as Ali and thought that she connected with the audience. Cher was perfect and flawless as Cher always is. Kristen Bell as Nikki was awesome, at one point in the movie I found myself wanting to see her fall on her face and lose the spotlight. Predictable yes, but this movie isn't a thriller or meant to keep people wondering what will happen next.Stanley Tucci was the perfect choice for Sean. He plays those types of roles well. (I was reminded of his character in “The Devil Wears Prada”) I found the visuals stunning and as soon as it was over I honestly wanted to see it all over again.

  9. Suanetitania

    January 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    i beg to disagree, but this movie is way to beautiful than those of mariah and britney. Christina can act and im surprise to see her that she can blend w/ those veteran actors and actresses. For a newbie like her it's totally a two thumbs up film..

  10. Bambbi Fuentes

    February 15, 2011 at 7:11 am

    i love burlesque!!! Christina is very good as a newcomer..

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