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This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Burlesque is hot mess, but not hot enough!

November 26, 2010

Here are bits from my favorite reviews of Burlesque, which according to Rotten Tomatoes is rotten with the critics (33%) and fresh with audiences (82%). I haven’t seen the film, but based on its PG-13 rating, it’s unlikely to assume the throne still held by Showgirls. I bet Rex Reed has stated Burlesque is one of the ten best films of the year, as he’s given to saying about every film! (I see you, Redlami!)

“Now when it comes to Stanley Tucci, it’s another story. Truthfully I can’t remember anything he says, though there was some warning about an expiration date on milk, or maybe that was love, but God bless him, that man can read a phone book and make you feel the pathos. As Tess’ main confidant and best friend, stage manager Sean, he’s tangy and tart and the only one you’d want to take home (though possibly Jack too, but just because he’s so pretty).”

– From LA Times Film Critic Betsy Sharkey

“Every Thanksgiving needs a turkey, and this year’s comes wrapped in a lacy bustier. “Burlesque” is the groaner of a movie musical that’s part “Glitter,” part “Cabaret,” part “Showgirls” and all fowl. Even those looking for high camp will be disappointed — and face it, with Christina Aguilera and Cher cast as the leads, high camp was the best “Burlesque” could hope for. The movie is a dull slog that doesn’t have the good sense to come out of the gate vamping it up and never look back.”

– From Detroit News Film Critic Adam Graham

“These post-Bill Clinton gyrations normalize public pandering; they proffer sex that is not sex. One tragedy of contemporary showbiz is the repetition of Fosse’s idiosyncratic style as the prevailing choreographic standard (as if Beyonce or Michael Jackson never existed). Antin seems not to know what burlesque actually was; he gloms on to the popularity of the abominable hits Chicago and Moulin Rouge and this insincere imitation of pop history becomes the basis for perpetuating fakery.”

– From everyone’s favorite contrarian Armond White

““Burlesque” offers burlesque as if it died and went to heaven. Behind a tawdry side entrance on Sunset Strip, a club exists that would make a Vegas casino proud. It has the eerie expanding and contracting dimensions of fantasy. At first, the stage is the right size for an intimate cabaret; later, there’s enough space to present a production number with dozens of (unaccounted for) dancers descending a staircase worthy of Busby Berkeley. The audience is all shadowy extras, whose friends will have to look real hard to spot them.”

– From always reliable Roger Ebert

Dying to hear to what The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane has to say. I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. Have you seen the movie yet? Are the critics being too harsh? What do y’all think?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2010 3:06 am

    This movie is enticing but not in a good way. I want to see it….Like I know I might be missing a train wreck that everyone else is going to be talking about in a few short months. I know I shouldn’t judge it just by what i see in the trailers. I harp on my friends for not watching a movie before they start bagging on it. But this is one I am going to wait till its at the dollar theatre before I fork out a penny for it.

  2. November 27, 2010 8:35 am

    Dollar theatre? You are still generous. I think now I’m saving this one for a Redbox night!

  3. November 27, 2010 1:54 pm

    I’ve got two reactions here. The first is that based on the reviews I’ve read, this movie could be extremely entertaining if I was able to get myself into a receptive enough mood.

    The second is that right now I doubt I could get into that mood, because I’m about fed up with Cher. She just did an interview for Parade “magazine” where she talks about, among other topics, her son Chaz:

    …except Cher still constantly refers to Chaz as “she”, “her”, “my girl” and so on, over and over and over, while at the same time patting herself on the back for being so loving and tolerant. And all I’d like to say to Cher is this:

    Millions of people pay attention to you. You’re still publicly disrespecting your son Chaz and you’re sending the message that transgendered people are not actually the genders we say we are. Come on, you’ve had every opportunity in the world to get this one right. Stop fucking it up.

  4. November 27, 2010 3:03 pm

    Each time I read that article it doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. As much as I’ve always liked Cher, I’ve never found her one to use her fame for anything other than to make Cher’s life more comfortable. It’s unsurprising, but really freaking heartbreaking. Many of her fans – well I guess they aren’t fans anymore – have long supported her work and her eleventy billion comebacks yet she’s unable to support her son and millions like him. chicken fried fail.

  5. November 28, 2010 12:15 am


  6. November 28, 2010 12:19 am


  7. hsofia permalink
    November 28, 2010 12:45 am

    Tucci seems to be taking a page from Christopher Walken rule of role-taking: if it’s offered, he’ll take it.

  8. November 28, 2010 12:49 am

    That’s Michael Caine’s motto too.

  9. hsofia permalink
    November 28, 2010 12:58 am

    I feel neutral about Cher; she wasn’t much on my radar until her Moonstruck comeback. (I’m not sure how many ‘comebacks’ she’s had – there was “If You Believe in Love” a while back, and I just saw a magazine cover declaring a Burlesque ‘comeback’.) So I would never see a movie because Cher is in it. As for the article, it would have been nice to at least get her kids’ perspectives (even briefly) if the article is going to mention them. I mean, does her artist son agree that he’s doing well? Does Chaz feel like things are all worked out between them? These seem like serious issues to just breezily gloss over, and it feels like a lot is missing.

  10. November 28, 2010 1:30 am

    If rumors are to be believed, Chaz and Cher have been estranged for years. Perhaps this is why. Who knows. I like Cher’s 80s movies like Witches of Eastwick, Suspect and Moonstruck. Her 80s music is good too. I haven’t really paid as much attention to her comings and goings of late though.

  11. Peel permalink
    December 2, 2010 6:49 pm

    Tucci delivered the heck outta some lines! Like maybe there were lots of other nominal jokes in the script, but he was the only one who knew how to say them. Like the part about the wig — “I’m wearing one now,” fade to black. Ha!

    I guess I wanted the whole movie to be more awful. It was medium-awful, and that just doesn’t do it for me. And can I ask the casting director a few questions re: Kristen Bell? Beginning with, “What?”

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