If there's one thing America loves, it's a good underdog story. If there are two things America loves, it's ogling scantily-clad sexy ladies. Put the two together, and what have we got? Burlesque. In the grand tradition of singers who decide to make the leap into acting, Christina Aguilera is about to follow in the footsteps of such good company as Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
Comprised of one part glitzy Los Angeles glamour, one part sexy dance flick, and who knows how much lipstick and hairspray, Burlesque will be Aguilera's foray into the much loved song-and-dance film genre.
Let me ply you with some facts and figures straight out the gate. Steve Antin wrote and directed this. Now, Antin comes from a big entertainment family: his sister Robin started, or rather invented, The Pussycat Dolls, and he has been involved with directing a few of their music videos. This is Cher's first film role in 11 years (well, seven if you count her appearance in Stuck On You). Burlesque is Christina Aguilera's first acting role, so maybe we're all about to be surprised that she hasn't gone the Jennifer Lopez route earlier. Aguilera has an excellent voice, whether you like her music or not, and the film is banking on her ability to make a glorified music video into something with a plot.
A careful dissection of the trailer proves fruitless. I even took notes. OK, that's a lie. I just thought it seemed a lot like the plot of Showgirls. Young, beautiful girl shows up in Los Angeles with a head full of dreams and becomes captivated by the culture of burlesque. After we see Aguilera hop on a bus from small town Nowheresville, she makes her way to L.A. and Cher intones, “When you are putting on your make-up, it's like you're an artist, but instead of painting a canvas, you're painting your face.” Truer words, Cher, truer words. What really boggles the mind is that this was probably the best quote they could scrounge. Anyway, Aguilera meets some kooky characters, played by Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell, and Julianne Hough (Hough being the most experienced dancer of the cast, and Bell being ... in the movie). However, no one pays her any attention until she belts her heart out at an audition and she gets to sing and dance. So now there's a rivalry between the old and the new. I suspect there will be some problems, and then there will be resolution.
Actually, that is basically the plot of Showgirls, but hopefully with less screaming and pushing people down staircases. I can only imagine what the pitch meeting was like: “Chicago but modern, and Christina Aguilera will be in it! Burlesque has got it all: passion, dancing, singing -- it's gonna be great.” Throw a little bit of the failed musical Nine in there, and you just built yourself a movie from the cast-off bits of every other movie. This is why we can't have nice things.
You know what, maybe Burlesque will be better than I'm allowing. I've now watched the trailer about eight times and it's had the intended effect. I kind of want to actually watch the movie, which comes out around Thanksgiving. The weird thing is, I don't like dance movies. I fast-forward through all singing in musicals, or anything like that. Netflix informs me that I enjoy “cerebral dramas from the 1970s that feature a strong female lead.” What a riot. So maybe it won't just be dance fiends, but the fact remains that people who really like Step Up, Dancing with the Stars, and glitzy musicals will like this movie, because it looks like it's going to end up being better than Showgirls, but not as good as Chicago.