Reel Critics: Cher, Christina take on 'Burlesque'

"Burlesque" is as much about the art of the sexy tease as "Dancing with the Stars" is about dancing.

Small-town girl Ali (Christina Aguilera) arrives in Hollywood with only her stripper shoes and ambition. Pounding the pavement for a job, she limps into the Burlesque Lounge just in time for proprietor Tess' big number. Anybody notice that Tess sorta looks like Cher?

Ali goes from plucky waitress to chorus girl until Fate steps in and – hey, she belts out a song just like Christina Aguilera! Let's build a show around her with Fosse-wannabe choreography and forgettable tunes!

Just days from foreclosure, Tess (Cher) and her stage manager (the delightful Stanley Tucci) miraculously create elaborate costumes and bigger sets with skillful lighting and a bedazzler.

"Burlesque" is a rare chance to see Cher — proving that divas never die, they just get better glue guns.

Love sick enough to make you sick

Is this a comedy about handsome, self-absorbed people who fall in love or another "disease of the week" movie? Either way, just call it "love sick." Somebody dial 911.

Set in 1996, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway play lovers with all the sincerity (and skin) they can muster. He's a salesman and she's an artist, which means no visible source of income and lots of spare time.

She also has Parkinson's disease, but it doesn't dampen her beauty or libido. Their outcome is a no-brainer; it just takes endless close-ups to get there.

The real lack of brains goes to the character of Gyllenhaal's brother, a dotcom millionaire who's utterly repulsive with no redeeming comic value. Is there a pill for that?

'Tangled' a good animated family flick for the holidays

For years, animated productions from Pixar and DreamWorks have eclipsed the once premier talent at the Disney Studio. But the release of "Tangled" may mark the return of Disney to the top tier of kid-friendly films. Loosely based on the fairy tale of Rapunzel, it successfully conjures up adventure, romance, tears and laughter in equal measure.

Mandy Moore voices the young woman with the long flowing mane of magical hair. She's been trapped in a tower for years by a witch and held captive. But a gallant young man of dubious character enters the scene. He unwittingly opens the door to freedom for her, transforming their lives in every way. Bad guys enter the picture trying to stop them at every corner.

Of course, several pitfalls and many narrow escapes occur on their way to living happily ever after. But there are intelligent twists and turns that will entertain both the kids and parents in the audience. Along with the usual action and excitement, there's also a lot of heartfelt emotion and humor at play. Disney once again delivers a great old fashioned holiday film for the entire family.

SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a financial services company.

JOHN DEPKO is a Costa Mesa resident and a senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office.

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