Ali (Aguilera) is an Iowa hick turned Los Angeleno who fatefully discovers an out-of-time nightclub called Burlesque. The atmosphere is smoky; the dancing girls are sparkly; the employees wear bowler hats and raccoon eyeliner. This might be Weimar Germany, or at least a back-alley revival of Cabaret (and sure enough, Alan Cumming greets our heroine at the door). It's home, in other words, and it isn't long before Ali charms her way into the good graces of the club's strong-willed owner, Tess (Cher), who's desperately trying to stave off creditors. If she could turn back time...
Modified DeLoreans, of course, are not an option. But Ali's talent for throaty melismas is. Soon this "slut with a mutant pair of lungs" (princess-bitch rival Kristen Bell's words, not mine) is filling the house, dating an ab-tastic bartender (Gigandet) and making gold of anything she touches. There are challenges along the way (a pissed-off fiance; a money-mad real-estate developer), but the drama is entirely, often ridiculously perfunctory. Ignore the hamming; Burlesque is better at glamming, and that's just fine for those of us with a taste for glittery spectacle and earnestly campy theatrics. Christina struts her stuff, Cher belts out a Diane Warren--penned ballad, and Gigandet does an ogle-worthy swagger while hiding his naughty bits with a Famous Amos cookie box. That's gonna leave a trademark.
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