Cher makes her big-screen comeback in “Burlesque,” an outlandish spectacle filled with clichés, lacking in story or feeling and belonging more on a live stage than anywhere else.
In it she plays Tess, the owner of I’m-not-even-sure-what-you-would-call-the-club. Basically hot chicks get on stage in lingerie, sequins or diamonds fall around them, and they lip-sync and dance to music. The real story here should have been about the lunatics who find this interesting but instead it’s about a dancer, Ali (Christina Aguilera), who’s fresh to Hollywood from small-town Iowa and is consequently filled with hopes, dreams and enthusiasm and ready to take Tess’s club on by storm. And she better because an evil land developer (Eric Dane) is ready to take the club right out from under her if it doesn’t start succeeding soon. Will Ali ever dance and wear make-up the right way? When her set is sabotaged, will she be able to sing for herself? Will she become romantically involved with the evil developer or the club’s sexy bartender (Cam Gigandet)?
Writer-director Steve Antin takes it all so seriously, like all this stuff is of dire importance, and sensitive moments between characters, especially between Aguilera and Gigandet, have this awkwardness as if they were both just reading lines. Aguilera has a booming voice but most of the musical numbers look like music videos–that are inconsequential to the plot, itself limited–and she fumbles on songs that require real heart.
The one song I liked was from Cher, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”, which seems to, somewhat, touch on the story and have feeling at the same time. Not that the story deepens or moves towards a satisfying end anyway. Instead we just see a lot of burlesque, in all its vanity.