Commentary - Burlesque

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2010 Movie Review - Burlesque
I watched Hello Dolly for the first time at the age of 6 and have been charmed by movie musicals ever since. It’s my happy place! I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched Ann-Margret be sweetly sassy in Bye Bye Birdie, Barbra Streisand be seduced by Omar Sharif on a chaise lounge, in Funny Girl, I know all the lyrics to “If I Were a Bell” from Guys and Dolls and Gigi, well, I don’t think I love anything or anyone, more than the movie Gigi. Although another one of my favorites is Gypsy, I always wish that Natalie Wood turned into Gypsy Rose Lee sooner in the movie, so there would be more scenes when she’s vamping it up!In a way, I get my wish in the movie Burlesques although not voluptuous, 
Christina Aguilera makes an excellent pinup girl, she's got the 
looks, the moves, and better than a silent pinup girl, Christina has those huge pipes which the movie showcases in number after belting number. Some of which were written by Aguilera as original music for the film -“Express,” “Bound to You,” the big ballad of the movie, and “Burlesque,” the finale. (click HERE for a good interview with the Burlesque Bombshell).
Then there's Cher, timeless, iconic, no one knows how to  "Vamp it up" and command a scene like Cher. Her voice is as strong today as it was when she first started singing "Gypsy, Tramps and Thieves".
And that's the movie - these two powerhouses, excellent musical productions, a great set that truly feels like an old speakeasy, other beautiful girls in creative lingerie (I love the one made only from strings and ropes of pearls) and  Stanley Tucci as a gay stage manager/seamstress.

Actually, that's all the movie should be, but instead writer/director Steve Antin tries to give it form and narrative, creating a very clumsy plot and script and please don't let me get started on the dialogue. Now remember, I love good, light, predicable movie musical cheesy.  There's nothing clever about the premise for Dream Girls, but it works. I'm just about the only person who wrote in defense of the movie musical, Nine (click for review).  But Burlesque misses the schmaltzy story beats at every turn. Nor does it deliver something fresh and involving. I won't ruin the scenes for you by going into detail, but I will say that Kristen Bell's character is useless and if you're looking for a good old fashioned cat fight, you'll be sorely disappointed.  It makes no since to cast the incredible DWTS, Julianne Hough in the role of a dancer who gets pregnant and can no longer dance. I love Alan Cummings , but they use him for little more than occasional set dressing. And Eric Dane should have said, I've got better things to do with my time and turned down  the roll entirely.

In fact, I feel they should have done away with storyline entirely. It would have been better to write quirky little vignettes between staged musical numbers, perhaps with a little of the darkness of Cabaret. The whole film should take place inside the club, just a dysfunctional group working together like a family; showing little squabbles and backstage shenanigans, flirtations and jealousies. All the girls could have big, bold characteristics that could easily be brought into focus, leading into the next performance. This would have worked, what we got, was not so hot.

Perhaps Aguilera should consult with Mariah Carey on how to make a come back after a movie musical debacle.

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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