I’m not saying it’s the best movie ever made, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Here’s why:
- Christina Aguilera. Wow. I’ve always respected her as a singer, but I had no idea she was such a talented actress. As a point of comparison, I like Miley Cyrus (I know, I know …) but whenever she’s on screen, all I see is Miley Cyrus. Aguilera, by contrast, was the character. She played the small-town-girl-dreams-of-being-a-star perfectly, and I was truly absorbed at every moment. With this movie I think she’s begun to establish her future as an icon of Madonna-esque importance. Granted, she’s still got a few years ahead of her for that one, but I’ll be watching.
- There wasn’t a bad guy. I liked that the antagonist is charming but not in an overly slimy way, and that he never actually becomes a villain, so to speak. Even when his plans for the club are revealed, he’s still not evil, nor is he portrayed as such. I love the line, “It doesn’t make you a bad guy, it just makes you the wrong guy.” Great button to that scene. Of course, Nikki was a bad guy, and a villain, and the monodimensional nature of her character did detract, in my opinion. You win some, you lose some.
- It’s economical. One of the challenges of a musical is that you have to keep people’s interest through songs, which are great at illustrating the themes/emotions of the characters but don’t always succeed at advancing the plot. In Burlesque it really works that the opening sequence advances us, through montage, to the character’s quest, that the second song doubles as the first turning point, and that so many of the other turning points come through songs as well.
- Great treatment of the hero. That Ali wasn’t just some helpless farm girl–that she always had a comeback for the catty girls backstage, that she had the balls to just pick up a tray and start delivering drinks, that she had no qualms about appearing on stage naked and covered only by strategically placed props, that she shoved her way in and made her boss listen to her time and again–really made her much more endearing. How putrescent and predictable would it have been to see her struggle to appear on stage in a thong for the first time or to show up with a weak, embarrassed voice until the time she really needed it? I really bought her from the very beginning as someone who would be successful, and she continued to be likable even when she had achieved her success.