Running Time: 100 mins.                    Rating: 2 Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Steve Antin

Genre: Drama/Musical/Romance

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: Screen Gems

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

CHICAGO staged at New York’s Pyramid Club featuring an animatronic trannie (sorry Cher).  The most campy film released by Hollywood since SHOWGIRLS, BURLESQUE will be a big hit among gays, women and the smart men who want more than a peck on the cheek goodnight — the female visuals are more than worthy if they don’t get lucky.

Christina’s bisexuality is on full display as a farm girl with a dream who hoofs it to the big city and feasts her eyes on the delectable dancers at a retro venue called “Burlesque” and salivates Pavlovianishly.  Run by a retired dancer and her gay (of course) costume designer, the lounge is struggling on its’ last legs as times are a ‘changing and vultures, I mean developers, are hovering over what they hope is soon-to-be carrion.  Only when a miracle/cliché, or in this case an ingénue who can sing rather than lip-sync like her fellow bump and grinders, rises from the wait staff, do we know there will be a brighter, sunny day on the horizon.

Alas the Scottish pixie Alan Cumming has a do-nothing role with a performance number that disappoints.  The director it seems was very afraid of having his nominal leads upstaged by someone with talent, which Cumming has in spades.  What is rather curious is the lack of a duet between Cher and Christina Aguilera, the one singer of her generation who legitimately has the pipes to forego tracking and ProTools.

A gay director’s in-joke tribute to that other gay icon is the casting of Mr. Barbra Streisand himself, James Brolin, as the lesser of two evils businessman who helps Mickey & Judy, I mean, Cher & Christina, save the show.  As the former boyfriend of David Geffen, the director gets in a sly dig by alluding to Geffen’s past relationship with Cher by having her character having once slept with Stanley Tucci’s character in Reno when they were conveniently drunk.

The photo books of classic burlesque dancers from the art form’s heyday which Aguilera peruses as she dreams of making it on stage is the closest the film comes to burlesque rather than an extended Pussycat Dolls revue (the group in fact was created by director Steve Antin).  Today’s neo-burlesque is in reality a medium for the narcissistic exhibitionist Generations X and Y uber-Me generation obsessed with instant celebrityhood.  Christina may not be a great actress but she is quite nice to look at.  In twenty years Ms. Aguilera risks becoming her generation’s Ethel Merman.  One problem is the film is shot tv style (or music video-like as per the background of the director) instead of as a feature film ala Busby Berkeley.  Wait, didn’t Berkeley’s musicals all have this same plot?

We’ll be seeing BURLESQUE restaged on next season’s ‘Glee’.  In LA a drag revue has already hit the boards – even before the film opened.

If you like this recommendations: Chicago, Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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