“Burlesque” or “Cabaret 2: Rise of the Moulin Rouge Dancers” by Matilda Dixon-Smith

Posted on February 19, 2011


Burlesque, before actually seeing it, was a possibility for the Quest for the Worst Movie of All-Time shortlist. Goodness, how wrong I was. There was just so so much right with Burlesque. True, the ‘right’ may be closely associated with ‘wrong’, but, I mean, CHER!?! CHER and CHRISTINA AGUILERA in her FILM DEBUT!!?!

The greatest match-up since popcorn and peanut M&Ms...

Ali Rose (Aguilera) is from some hick town in Iowa. She’s got depressingly cliché big-city dreams, so packs up and high-tails it to L.A. (in the first 45 seconds, no mucking about). She moves into some dodgy apartment, tapes her meagre savings behind her toilet cistern and goes out to look for a job. She stumbles across the Burlesque Lounge, a neo-cabaret club.  Inside resides a slew of hilarious stereotypes: Alan Cumming as the club’s androgynous emcee (hmm, where, oh where did they get that idea from?); Kristen Bell as Nikki, the club’s bitch-face, alcoholic lead dancer; Stanley Tucci as the super-fey club manager Shaun; and CHER. CHER is the ‘ballsy’ club owner who won’t let her dream die even though the club is in huge financial trouble (uh-ohhhh!). Ali establishes some classic sexual chemistry with bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet), and successfully lands herself a gig at Burlesque as a waitress.

CHER (and Jack), just 'illin'

Dense, difficult to follow plot ensues. LOL, jks, the plot is laughably easy to guess after 10 minutes. Ali gets put in the act as a dancer, they find out she is a bang singer and she is given star billing in the club. Yay for Ali! Now Ali is famous, and CHER is TEACHING HER TO PUT ON MAKE UP (scary). Example: CHER “When I put on make up, I always imagine I’m painting, but instead of painting a picture, I’m painting my face.” Thanks, CHER! Of course, the fame goes to Ali’s head and she is bamboozled by a sweet-talking L.A. businessman who takes advantage of her small-town-hick vulnerability. Jack gives her a serious talking to (Example: Jack: “Life is about choices, Ali!!!!!”) and CHER gets mad A LOT about maybe losing her club. There are also several HILARIOUS cabaret numbers – including three (count it, three) songs with the word ‘burlesque’ in them. As if we forgot the title whilst being ‘transported’ by all the brilliance.


This film is bad. I can’t hide it. However, although it is bad, man, Burlesque is good fun. For a start, anything with Stanley Tucci in it is fabulous. He is FABULOUS. Also, pairing Christina Aguilera and Cher was a stroke of odd-ball genius. They are both so darn wacky and awful together, it totally works. Also, the dance numbers are just hysterical. My sister and I were pretty taken with “Express”, a soulless number where Aguilera spells out the word ‘express’ (it reminded me of “Brat-ittude” in The Bratz Doll Movie. Yes, I’ve seen that). We hadn’t seen nothin’, however, until we witnessed the final number, entitled “Show Me How You Burlesque”. I love the sheer nerve of trying to turn the word ‘burlesque’ into a verb. Oh, Christina. You.

Aguilera, showing me how to "Burlesque"

We recognised alarming similarities in Burlesque to the following films: Cabaret, Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Honey, Coyote Ugly and Glitter. There are most-likely more that we missed while laughing at CHER’S two, interchanging facial expressions (steely-mad-ballsy-glare and contented-slightly-proud-whimsical-smile).


Basically, the only real ‘bad-bad’ (as opposed to ‘good-bad’) thing about Burlesque was the timing. They really tried to transport us back to the 1930s European burlesque scene. Christina Aguilera and the current incarnation of CHER are just so a product of this time that it didn’t work. It doesn’t matter how many old-style convertibles the cast inexplicably drives, whenever someone pulled out a mobile, I was hit with a sudden wave of ‘time-travel sickness’.

They're almost from the 1930s....almost.

Burlesque might just win the ultimate “So Bad It’s Good” prize. Yes, even over Another Cinderella Story.

For those eager to take up the challenge, Burlesque is still in limited release in cinemas. Catch it before they take it off the books for good!

Posted in: Movies