An Iowa country girl with talent dreams of the big-time saves her pennies and makes the trip to the big city to take a shot at the prize of fame and fortune. We’ve seen this story a million times, and Burlesque, with Christina Aguilera as the young aspirant and Cher as an aging mentor/club owner who gives the girl a chance, offers no new wrinkles. But at least it puts Aguilera center stage, because its bawdy show-tunes vibe updated with her distinct contemporary flair keeps the proceedings humming along.
Director Steve Antin’s movie plays like a music video for all the attention it actually pays to narrative and character elements, which means that an actor like Stanley Tucci just runs loose as the burlesque show’s gay stage manager — not a bad idea since Tucci can hit all of the right performative notes in his sleep and still make this re-tread sound like an original.
But less assured hands, like Kristen Bell and Cam Gigandet, have little else to offer other than their pretty faces, which guarantees that no one else has a chance of stealing the spotlight from Aguilera.
Glam-queen throne Cher only gets a couple of opportunities to strut her stuff on screen, but, like Dame Judi Dench, she doesn’t need time to remind us of her royal power. Of course, Aguilera proves, if nothing else, that she’s ready and willing to wait for the old queen to fade away. Grade: C-