Above all things, nothing is free. I didn't have to pay a penny for the awesome seat I obtained (right in the middle), but I had to deal with traffic, parking and people wondering why my rag tag group of dancers got special seating while everyone else had to wait in line.
We got special seating (right in the middle of the theater) because Coco, the director of our burlesque team, Pixie Stixx, got in the finals of MTV's Burlesque Dance Contest. We sat right behind the people from Sony and the members of IDK who were there with Robin (not Antin), another finalist from the contest.
We felt like Burlesque Royalty.
Now onto the movie Burlesque. Imagine Chicago and Cabaret with none of the social commentary but all of the sexy, flashy fun. This movie is "almost" that.
All great musicals have songs that help to push the story forward. This is not one of them. This movie has a lot more in common with Coyote Ugly and Flashdance. Flashdance especially. Not saying I didn't enjoy myself. On top of the 4 songs that actually do push the story forward, there are really some awesome pieces that just need to be seen to be believed. When the camera isn't cutting away from the dances, some real magic happens. Even Cam Gigandet gets to do a little striptease that has to be seen to be believed. Some of the lead-ins to the musical numbers were very unnecessary. When a movie opens with Christina Aguilera wailing away to cut away scenes burlesque dancers she has yet to meet, and follows with Cher wailing away with those very dancers, I think it's safe to say that if anyone is still in the theater, they get that these two ladies will sing and dance.
Christina Aguilera plays Ally who escapes from her small town life to Hollywood and finds herself in a club called "The Burlesque Lounge" which has an exterior that resembles a gay youth center I used to frequent as a teen. There she meets the owner of the club Tess (Cher), her gay companion Sean (Stanly Tucci), a sexy metro bartender (Cam Gigandet) and the star of "The Burlesque Lounge," the villainous yet redeemable Nikki (an underused Kristen Bell).
There should be no doubt about Cher's acting ability. This woman went through Moonstruck, Mermaids and Tea with Mussolini. She's an actor people. Christina Aguilera really surprised me with her portrayal of Ally. I thought what she did with the character was very real and honest and I can only imagine how hard that is to do with all the flashy set pieces and costumes flying about.
Director and writer Steven Antin (Robin Antin's brother) really has to be praised for just diving into this material. Musical movies can be really tricky and this movie in particular straddles a fine line between movie musical and movie with music in it. A weak script full of cliches, one too many montage scenes and a rushed third act really might put a damper on this movie, but the little homages to Cabaret (Alan Cummings in a featured cameo for example) and the awesome choreography really help lift the movie past mediocre.
Definitely watch if you love the burlesque style of dance, Christina and Cher, and if not... well you read this far, I think you can safely decide. Or...... you can buy the Burlesque - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.