Static Mass Rating: 4/5

Release Date: December 17th 2010
Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 118 minutes

Director: Steve Antin

Cast: Kristen Bell, Cam Gigandet, Stanley Tucci, Eric Dane, Cher, Alan Cumming, Julianne Hough, Christina Aguilera, Peter Gallagher

“It takes a legend to make a star”, as a billboard slogan for Burlesque declares. The legend in question is Cher, making a welcome return to the big screen after a 7 year absence.

In this musical extravaganza, Cher plays Tess, the owner of a majestic but struggling Burlesque house in Los Angeles. Snowed under with debt, she refuses to sell to entrepreneur Marcus (Eric Dane) who wants the site for a high-rise block of luxury apartments. In walks Ali Rose (Christina Aguilera), a small town girl with a big voice, looking for a job. Tess takes Ali on as a waitress and she gradually works her way from the floor to the stage as the main attraction. Recognising the girl’s got talent; Tess becomes a surrogate mother to Ali, showing her the ropes while at the same time trying to keep the place from going under.

Mirroring the hard times a lot of businesses face these days, Burlesque aims for a contemporary approach and this is backed by its musical numbers. Featuring 8 tracks by Christina including the stomper “Express” with its furious bassline and infectious melody, it’s impossible not to at least tap your feet! There are also 2 tracks by Cher which are performed in the film; “Welcome to Burlesque” and the power ballad “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me”. Sadly though, the two vocal talents never go head-to-head or share the stage for a musical number which was something I was hoping for.

The supporting cast includes Alan Cumming as Alexis, the doorman. His character is very much in the vein of Joel Grey’s Master of Ceremonies in Cabaret (1972) but to a lesser degree in that he does not have any musical numbers. Stanley Tucci plays stage manager Sean although its becomes a little tiresome for the 1000th time to see gays portrayed as men who sleep with one another on a nameless basis and are unable to form lasting relationships. Cam Gigandet, probably best known for his role as James, the villainous vampire in Twilight (2008) plays Jack, the barman and aspiring musician who catches Ali’s eye. He serves as the man-candy in the film, complete with bowler hat and eye-liner.


But what would Burlesque be if there wasn’t some rivalry? For that we have Kristen Bell as Nikki, the spoilt bitch who had it all until Ali walked in and stole her thunder. This creates some tension between them, especially when Ali’s first words to her are that she looks like a dude! Tess certainly has a tough job as the mother hen trying to keep all her chicks in order.

Cher is wonderful in this role and seems perfectly suited to run a Burlesque house given her talents as a performer and leader. It might not garner an Oscar as Moonstruck (1987) did, but still it’s still worth seeing her light up the screen as she’s been doing since Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982) and with Mermaids (1990). While the posters may say “It takes a legend to make a star”, we know in actual fact it take a star to make a legend like Cher.


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