Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Left with 'Maybes' -- Reflections on "Burlesque" (2010)

"Oh! I just won the Razzie for Worst Actress? Who? Me?"

No amount of spoilers could sufficiently prepare you for the mess that is Burlesque.

For me, it's a film of maybes -- a sort of cock-tease. Just not the kind that leaves you full of lust and a playful desire to beg for more; more like the kind that you know will leave you with blue balls and the sting of rejection.

Maybe if I hadn't already seen this movie when it was called Cabaret, or A Star is Born, or Singin' in the Rain, or Showgirls, I might have liked it. Small town, middle American girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) seeks stardom in Hollywood. So she goes where all the lovely young ladies go -- a burlesque nightclub on Sunset Strip. There she finds her dreams tangled in a profound metaphor for Hollywood and our current economic crisis.

Just kidding.

Maybe if the movie didn't constantly remind you of its title in every other song, I might have enjoyed the tunes more. When we first meet Tess (Cher), she is vogueing and singing a song called, "Welcome to Burlesque." Later on, after Ali showcases her BIG vocal powers and becomes the talk of the town, she sings "Express," a number that features the word "burlesque" in every verse, chorus and bridge. And the climax of the movie -- if you could call it that, since the feeling it leaves you with is the cinematic equal of blue balls -- features the entire cast strutting and belting out "Show Me How You Burlesque."

I'm assuming the writer/director, Steve Antin, took his lead from the world of advertising, which teaches that in order to make a person remember something, they have to be exposed to it five times, minimum.

Maybe if this film had been on the Lifetime network, I might not have made fun of the wooden acting so much.


Maybe if Cher's face had been a little less tighter around the edges than Christina Aguilera's ass, I might have giggled less during her powerhouse ballad, "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me." Instead, I couldn't help but think that Cher looks like a drag queen now, or a drag queen wearing a Cher mask.

Maybe if the film had a little nudity, or something naughtier than Aguilera gyrating her hips, I might have considered it worthy of the dirty title. Instead, tepid Skinimax fare on late night cable seems more compelling.

Maybe if the plot didn't focus so much on a story involving real estate and a crumbling business, I might have actually wanted to stay awake. Seriously, I love a great story about the buying and selling of "air rights."

Don't you?

And maybe if the songs felt connected to the events of a plot about as see-through as a burlesque performers outfit, I might have cared. As is, the movie plays like this: someone sings, people (emote) act, someone sings and dances, people (read) act, I get nauseated.

But the most important "maybe" I'm left with is this: maybe if you see Burlesque, you can leave with the satisfaction of knowing you just saw the Razzie winner for Worst Picture of 2010.

That's something, right?

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