by Rick Grant
Who knew that Christina Aguilera was a triple threat, endowed with an awesome voice, great dance moves, and acting chops. In 2007, Aguilera beat out Susan Tedeschi for best new artist Grammy. At the time, I was stunned because I thought Aguilera was just another Madonna clone.
Now, after viewing a preview showing of Burlesque, I was blown away by Aguilera’s massive talent. Her voice is bluesy and powerful; she’s an accomplished dancer; and in her first film, she showcases her acting skill. And, she’s drop dead sexy.
Aguilera dominates this sensational film that is not a typical musical. The story is cleverly woven into the music it sets a new archetype for this genre. The dance numbers are burlesque-style by definition, but brilliantly choreographed–and cause the stimulation of testosterone in male audience members.
The action takes place inside the Burlesque Lounge which is struggling to stay in business. Tess (Cher) is the owner who is dedicated to this old school art form. She has a balloon note due in a month. If she can’t make the payment, the bank will foreclose on her loan.
Meanwhile, a talented young lady has had it with her job as waitress at a dive bar in a small town in Iowa. One day she walks out of her old life and heads for Los Angeles to pursue a career in show business and takes to the streets looking for a job as a dancer, attending audition after audition with no luck. Then exhausted, she stumbles across a burlesque lounge and is captivated by what she sees.
Amazed, she already knows the songs and dance moves. So she walks in and goes straight to the bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet). He’s struck by her beauty and spunk. So, he tells her to see Tess. Backstage she is shunned by Tess. Ali is determined to get a job at this club so she picks up a tray and starts waiting tables.
Yes, it’s a contrived Cinderella story but Aguilera’s acting convinces the audience that yes, this opportunity could happen in real life.
Ali gets her chance to be in the show. But another member of the troupe sabotages her debut by pulling the plug on the voice tracks. So, Ali sings the track live and blows away Tess with her awesome voice.
Steve Antin’s taut direction and the incredibly precise choreography are riveting. The story morphs into the music and dance perfectly. Stanley Tucci is a stand-out as Tess’ assistant and confidant, Sean, who sees Ali’s monster talent before anyone else.
Cher is a big surprise as Tess. She performs a song with such verve, it had the audience applauding at the screen. Clearly, at 64, Cher still wields major talent as an actress and singer. She steals all of her scenes with her skillful portral of this strong lady.
The film is a must see for everyone–young and old. It rocks!
Burlesque movie review
by Rick Grant