A small town girl moves to LA to chase her dreams of becoming a big star in a big city. While out looking for a dancing/singing gig, she stumbles upon a Burlesque club where she sees a captivating star and she instantly knows she wants to be on that same stage. We’ve seen this movie before, but even if SHOWGIRLS is one of the worst movies ever made, at least it knew it was bad. I don’t think the BURLESQUE filmmakers ever realized just how bad their movie really was.
It’s tough to even begin to criticize this film, but I’ll start with the single factor that can make or break any musical; the music. In this case, the music is terrible. With the possible exception of the closing number, every song in BURLESQUE was instantly forgettable. And I was appalled they would use ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ since it was used in a much better musical barely 10 years ago (MOULIN ROUGE). It’s not like there’s a shortage of music and there are only 5 songs in the world to choose from, the filmmakers were just lazy. It was also a grave mistake to not have this be a true musical. Forcing all the music to be performed on a stage meant that we had to suffer through atrocious dialogue exchanges between numbers. I would have preferred seeing the stars try to sing their way through the movie rather than hearing one more word of actual dialogue.
Speaking of bad dialogue, it’s a mystery how Steve Antin was ever given the money and freedom to make this movie. He was clearly out of his league taking on a big musical production like BURLESQUE as a director, but his screenwriting ability wasn’t ready for the challenge either. No one should make their directorial debut with a musical they also wrote and Steve is a good example why. It didn’t help that he had first time actress Christina Aguilera leading the film. She’s a beautiful woman and no one can argue her “mutant lungs”, but she also wasn’t ready to carry a movie of this magnitude. I also had a big problem with Kristen Bell, who still has a devoted legion of fans even though she’s never had a decent movie. In this, her character was a complete joke with some of the worst lines in the film. I have to give kudos to Ms. Bell for saying her lines with a straight face.
In fact, the only thing that separated this from a B-movie rip-off was the production quality. It “looked” and “felt” like a big budget movie, but the songs, screenwriting, directing and acting were more on par with a TV movie or something you’d find going straight to DVD. And even though there was a lot of Oscar talk when the film was originally announced, I think in retrospect it was pretty clear this didn’t have much of a chance to be anything but cheesy. I appreciate the loudness (in both style and music), but without some taste, it comes off as embarrassingly silly.
Video (1080p, 2.40:1)- Antin’s style consisted of casting a smoke-like haze over everything, so it’s tough to dissect the video quality of the Blu-ray. The transfer looked about as good as it can considering what it was working with.
Audio (5.1 DTS-HD MA)- The audio on the other hand was magnificent quality-wise. The only problem was the fact we had to listen to really bad songs.
Commentary with writer/director Steven Antin: Antin does a really good job of keeping up this commentary and he has a lot of little background information to share about various scenes and settings. He seems to have really enjoyed making this film. If you are a fan of this film and are dying to know more then this commentary is for you, he does not disappoint.
The Burlesque Jukebox: This is where you can see the full length routines from the various performances throughout the film.
Alternate Opening (6:31)- Neither better nor worse, just a little different.
Blooper Reel (5:09)- Your typical blooper reel, except there aren’t as many of those break-out laughing scenes from the cast.
Burlesque is Back! (3:19)- A short little history of the burlesque shows and how it’s evolved.
The Performers: The Cast of Burlesque (8:50)– It’s a mutual admiration society right here! Everybody loves everybody, that’s about it.
Setting the Stage: Production Design and Photography (4:10)- Your typical featurette about the photography, settings, lighting, etc. Short, sweet and to the point.
Inside the Dressing Room: Creating the Burlesque Look (5:46)- About the costumes featured in the film.
The Set List: The Music and Choreography of Burlesque (11:02)- By far and away the most interesting featurette to me about the songs they selected and the intense dance numbers they performed.