Review: Burlesque

Twelve-year-old girls (or your inner twelve-year-old girl) should squeal with delight at this glossy assemblage of showbiz clichés, but everyone else will be snoozing by the end of its unearned two-hour running time.

De-skankified to the point where she could’ve only just graduated from The Mickey Mouse Club, blonde warbler Christina Aguilera relies principally on her incongruously huge voice to make an impression here. The plot has her acting out familiar tropes from every aspiring dancer/singer/arm-wrestler movie ever made as she attempts to make in the big bad world of… this one burlesque club in LA.

Critics often cite an actor’s ‘stillness’ as evidence of dramatic ability. The alarmingly plastic surgery-ified Cher, with her face looking like a condom stretched over a beach umbrella, gives a performance here as the club owner that’s not so much ‘still’ as ‘immobile’. I found myself struggling to find evidence that she wasn’t simply wheeled in on a vertical stretcher, à la Hannibal Lecter, to perform her scenes.

As a lifelong fan/defender of infamous film director/mad genius Paul Verhoeven (Robocop; Starship Troopers; Basic Instinct), I am obligated to revere his 1995 super-bomb/instant camp classic Showgirls, which casts an ominous shadow over Burlesque. From the scenes where the star-struck Aguilera earnestly emulates dance moves from the floor to the All About Eve-lite subplot involving a dance rival (played with gusto by the usually-much-nicer Kristen Bell), Showgirls was all over this movie.

But Burlesque critically fails to reach the giddy batshit-crazy highs that buoyed Verhoeven’s crapsterpiece, and is content to merely gloss up a oft-told story with ‘tastefully’ concealed T & A, shaken with intensity on stage.