film review: Burlesque (2010)

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Burlesque poster, Cher, ChristinaWith snowmageddon going on here, it’s hard to think about going outside at all, let alone going out to go to the cinema. But then that’s just what I did today. Not to this though. I went to this weeks ago. Today I went to Catfish. But that’s not important right now.

Wikipedia (today, 21st Dec 2010) defines burlesque as “a humorous theatrical entertainment involving parody and sometimes grotesque exaggeration.” That’s not really what the people in this film are doing at all. It’s more… cabaret. Guess they couldn’t really call it Cabaret though. Given the number of remakes floating around these days that would have been way too confusing.

I just thought you should know that from the outset. If you’re looking for a film about burlesque, this is not it. It’s not even particularly humorous. Well, not intentionally… However, if you’re looking for a fun, light film with good dancing, fabulous costumes and great music then this is the film for you.

I have to admit, I was very skeptical about Burlesque. I was not impressed with the trailer at all. I really wasn’t on for a small-town-girl-in-the-big-city, realising-dreams, dramaorama. Fortunately for me, I decided to go along anyway… I like musicals and even though it didn’t look very musical, I’d heard it was, so all good.

Thinking about it, you shouldn’t even watch the trailer. It’s completely misleading and it really doesn’t emphasise the songs… which are great, and for which I actually think it has a good shot at an Oscar for. The one thing I will say about it is that at least it doesn’t really give anything away. Not that there’s much of a plot or anything to give away… but at least it doesn’t fall into that trap of showing you all the good stuff that so many trailers do these days. For some reason they’ve just decided to show you a load of crap bits instead. I really don’t get the trailer at all. Watch the video at the end of this article. It’ll give you a much better idea of what to expect.

But enough about the trailer. What of the film? As I’m sure you’ve realised by now. I really enjoyed it. It’s not a particularly good film in the sense of… well… however one would classically define a good film; I’d imagine you’d worry about plot, script, characterisation, that kind of thing… but like I said, if you’re just looking for a bit of light-hearted fun and some great singing then it’s great.

In my eyes it doesn’t take any massive mis-steps and that’s where a lot of otherwise comfortably cheesy films fall down. There’s no really annoying characters, the actors aren’t appallingly bad. There’s a few real clunkers of lines but nothing you can’t ignore, or laugh about if you’re so inclined. And while the plot is nothing to write home about, it was a little convoluted in places but there was enough there to keep it rolling along at a decent pace… you know, to fill in the gaps between the singing and dancing… and the looking at the fabulous costumes. Did I mention they’re fabulous? Fabulous. I am a bit of a magpie though.

That said, as much as I enjoyed it. I do want to complain about one thing. Stanley Tucci got a decent bit of screen time. He could have done more, had more of a character but no-one did so ok… but Alan Cumming was criminally underused. I love Alan Cumming. Plus he was the only character that did anything approaching burlesque in the film. They could have given him at least one full routine… even if it was just to justify the title… no? no? Bah. Anyway that out of the way, it’s still good.

Obviously now, I wouldn’t recommend everyone go see it though. First of all, you have to like musicals. This isn’t a true musical as it were but if you hate them, you’ll probably hate this. Second, you have to not worry about having to take a little leap of faith when it comes to plot. Lastly, you have to like Christina Aguliera. I mean she’s in it a lot so if you don’t like her or her voice it’ll be a problem. If you have one of these issues, stay away. Stay very far away…

…Or you might get hit by a sequin.


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