Preview review: ‘Burlesque,’ Christina Aguilera’s first (and last?) act
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In the last decade, pop divas haven’t exactly had the best track record on the silver screen. Sure, there were some solid turns from Beyonce, but she’s the exception. Miley Cyrus didn’t bowl over critics with her performance in the Nicholas Sparks tear-jerker “The Last Song.” Britney Spears made her big-screen debut (and swan song) with the road-trip classic “Crossroads.” And before “Precious,” Mariah Carey had (gulp) “Glitter” and “Tennessee.”
Now it’s Christina Aguilera’s turn to show her skills, which she attempts to do in “Burlesque,” a star-is-born drama out in November from Screen Gems. The singer plays Ali, the prototypical small-town girl with starry eyes who buses herself all the way from Iowa to the Hollywood sign to fulfill her dreams of stardom. She starts waiting tables at a “neo-burlesque” club, run by the world-weary Tess (Cher). Ali tries to convince the lounge’s owner that she has what it takes to be a part of the club’s act, but Tess and her surly counterpart, Sean (Stanley Tucci), don’t think she has the chops. That is, until she gets on stage and belts out a song like — well, Christina Aguilera.
Judging by the trailer, the film looks like it’s overflowing with camp and schmaltz — even if the pairing of Cher and Aguilera seems appealing. The story is basically preposterous, a la “Coyote Ugly”: All a girl really wants in life is to wear very little and dance atop a bar! (Or in this case, wear very little and dance in a bar.) And the bits of dialogue we hear here are so hokey that we can’t imagine taking the movie seriously.
“You gotta make me believe that you belong on that stage,” Cher’s character implores her protege. “That it’s yours! And that nobody can take it from you. Now you wanna show me something? Show me that!”
She and Tucci do seem to have good chemistry. And one of the many doctors from “Grey’s Anatomy” (Eric Dane) serves as a potential love interest, which is a plus, if only for the eye candy. But while we’re looking forward to the song-and-dance numbers from Aguilera, her acting looks like it leaves a lot to be desired. She’s trying so hard to be innocent as her character pleads with Cher, “Just tell me what you want!”
Probably not this.
— Amy Kaufman
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