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'Burlesque' all shake, no stir
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'Burlesque' all shake, no stir

Aguilera can sing and dance but doesn't prove she can act.

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As a saucy song-and-dance movie, "Burlesque" is more hot mess than hot moves. It's the kind of goofy flick that wants to put on a good show, but sometimes forgets what it's doing because it doesn't have a brain in its head.

There's only one way to enjoy this cliché-riddled story of a young woman from a small town who goes to the big city to pursue her date with stardom (groan): Go in knowing that there are multiple vocal "wow" moments delivered by its stars, Christina Aguilera and Cher.

It's improbable to think that audiences will see this as a first-rate film, but they are very likely to walk out saying that Aguilera has a voice for the ages and how much they've missed Cher.

The film's start is as campy as the rest of the film needed to be, because it's the one style of acting that Aguilera can make believable. It's a shame to see a performer with such a natural gift of talent, presence and drive while singing come up so tone-deaf in the art of delivering lines.

Aguilera makes her poor Midwestern girl named Ali look like a spunky character that Dolly Parton might have played decades ago, as she stomps off from her job waiting tables in an Iowa diner and heads to Los Angeles to be a cocktail waitress in a neo-burlesque club.

Hey, she can't become the star of the show overnight; it's going to take a week or so. That's the kind of movie that "Burlesque" always is, with every move pre-destined because it already happened in a Bob Fosse movie, or a Betty Grable picture, or any other 1940s nightclub movie.

The Burlesque Lounge is owned by former dancer Tess (Cher), who can barely keep the place open. She can barely get by without the help of her assistant, Sean (Stanley Tucci, who in this role as favorite male pal/confidante must be on loan to Cher from her good friend Meryl Streep).

The drama at the club includes the bump-and-grind dance troupe, where more skin is shown without any nudity than any film this year. Imagine a Victoria's Secret show with lip-syncing models.

The revue's No. 1 gal is played by Kristen Bell, who doesn't so much sing and dance as warble and amble, but at least the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star out-acts everyone else. She does good diva, and between Aguilera, Cher and Tucci, there are already enough divas here to stage a VH1 special.

Once Ali becomes the revue's rightful star, Aguilera transforms, using that towering voice and those husky tones to alternately hush crowds and bring them to their feet. These are serious pipes, and her choreography is just as dynamic.

The spotlights are white-hot, and the dancers will kick your teeth out. Revealing outfits consisting of thongs, push-up bras and sequins are accented by eyelashes the size of butterflies. When the movie is loud and bombastic, it works.

But the film is equally a fairy princess tale (Ali with a bartender/songwriter/clichéd character played by "Twilight's" Cam Gigandet), but the romance never sings. Aguilera oddly has no chemistry with any male character in the film, making many scenes flat and meaningless.

Aguilera may wish she could transition into the talent that Cher became, but acting was not always easy for her. One of the film's best scenes is a quiet moment, finding Cher in a dressing room offering makeup tips and life lessons while maneuvering eyeliner on Aguilera's face. It's a warm, fairy godmother kind of moment that shows Cher has still got "it," for which Aguilera is still searching.

The singer receives little help from debut film writer-director Steve Antin (a choreographer whose sister founded the original Pussycat Dolls when they were more of a cabaret show than today's pop-song sensation).

"Burlesque" is so old-fashioned in its storytelling that it feels like what's happening inside the club is a time-warp from 50 years ago, while everything outside the Burlesque Lounge oddly feels like "Dancing With the Stars" present-day in tone. The movie needs more campy comedy than drama, and less Aguilera everywhere but on the stage. When singing, you can't take your eyes off her; when talking, I can't remember a word she said.

Now I know what people mean when they use the term "hot mess": I've seen "Burlesque."

nut graph here and here and here three lynes pleeze.

As a saucy song-and-dance movie, "Burlesque" is more hot mess than hot moves. It's the kind of goofy flick that wants to put on a good show, but sometimes forgets what it's doing because it doesn't have a brain in its head.

There's only one way to enjoy this cliché-riddled story of a young woman from a small town who goes to the big city to pursue her date with stardom (groan): Go in knowing that there are multiple vocal "wow" moments delivered by its stars, Christina Aguilera and Cher.

It's improbable to think that audiences will see this as a first-rate film, but they are very likely to walk out saying that Aguilera has a voice for the ages and expressing how much they've missed seeing Cher on the big-screen.

The film's start is as campy as the rest of the film needed to be, because it's the one style of acting that Aguilera can make believable. It's a shame to see a performer with such a natural gift of talent, presence and drive while singing come up so tone-deaf in the art of delivering lines.

Aguilera makes her poor Midwestern girl named Ali look like a spunky character that Dolly Parton might have played decades ago, as she stomps off from her job waiting tables in an Iowa diner and heads to Los Angeles to be a cocktail waitress in a neo-burlesque club.

Hey, she can't become the star of the show overnight; it's going to take a week or so. That's the kind of movie that "Burlesque" always is, with every move pre-destined because it already happened in a Bob Fosse movie, or a Betty Grable picture, or any other nightclub movie from the 1940s that "Burlesque" steals from liberally.

The Burlesque Lounge is owned by former dancer Tess (Cher), who can barely keep the place open. She can barely get by without the help of her assistant, Sean (Stanley Tucci, who in this role as favorite male pal/confidante must be on loan to Cher from her good friend Meryl Streep).

Tess can hardly keep her ex-husband (Peter Gallagher) from selling the place out from under her to a big-money, condo-building weasel (Eric Dane) who likes the ladies.

The drama at the club includes the bump-and-grind dance troupe in the nightly revue, where more skin is shown without any nudity than any film this year. Imagine a Victoria's Secret modeling show with lip-syncing models.

The revue's No. 1 gal is played by Kristen Bell, who doesn't so much sing and dance as warble and amble, but at least the "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star out-acts everyone else. She does good diva, and between Aguilera, Cher and Tucci, there are already enough divas here to stage a VH1 special.

Once Ali becomes the revue's rightful star, Aguilera transforms, using that towering voice and those husky tones to alternately hush crowds and bring them to their feet. These are serious pipes, and her choreography is just as dynamic.

The spotlights are white-hot, and the dancers will kick your teeth out. Revealing outfits consisting of thongs, push-up bras and sequins are accented by eyelashes the size of butterflies. When the movie is loud and bombastic, it works.

But the film is equally a fairy princess tale (Ali with a bartender/songwriter/clichéd character played by "Twilight's" Cam Gigandet), but the romance never sings. Aguilera oddly has no chemistry with any male character in the film, making many scenes flat and meaningless.

Aguilera may wish she could transition into the talent that Cher became, but acting was not always easy for her. One of the film's best scenes is a quiet moment, finding Cher in a dressing room offering makeup tips and life lessons while maneuvering eyeliner on Aguilera's face. It's a warm, fairy godmother kind of moment that shows Cher has still got "it," for which Aguilera is still searching.

The singer receives little help from debut film writer-director Steve Antin (a choreographer whose sister founded the original Pussycat Dolls when they were more of a cabaret show than today's pop-song sensation).

"Burlesque" is so old-fashioned in its storytelling that it feels like what's happening inside the club is a time-warp from 50 years ago, while everything outside the Burlesque Lounge feels like "Dancing With the Stars" present-day in tone. It's quite odd.

The movie needs more campy comedy than drama, and less Aguilera everywhere but on the stage. When singing, you can't take your eyes off her; when talking, I can't remember a word she said.

Now I know what people mean when they use the term "hot mess": I've seen "Burlesque."


BURLESQUE

Stars: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Alan Cumming

Theaters: AMC Southroads 20, Cinemark Tulsa, Cinemark Broken Arrow, Starworld 20, RiverWalk, Owasso, Eton Square, Sand Springs

Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (sexual content including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material)

Quality: (on a scale of zero to four stars)


Michael Smith 581-8479 Michael Smith 581-8479

michael.smith@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: Aguilera can sing and dance but doesn't prove she can act.

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