Like the proverbial cliché, it is indeed a tale as old as time! Small town girl packs up and leaves an Ohio county for the big city, wishing for a better life. But she ends up dispossessed (her hotel room was ransacked), left penniless and unemployed. She finds a curious joint in the backstreets of the city – where sexy ravishing beauties parade in Vegas-style choreographed numbers. “I can do that!” she thought.
Christina Aguilera plays ambitious Ali who, when she wanted a spot in the club, volunteered her free waitressing services if it gets her a foot in the door. Before long, she even has the nerve to suggest that the musical revues should include real live singing, which the owner Tess (played by Cher) initially dismisses. When a distracted and negligent star performer fails to show up, Ali ends up on stage – and when she’s further faced with a botched up record, all she had to do was employ her laryngeal wonders – the Aguilera way. Is there any doubt to Aguilera's traffic-stopping vocal prowess? What we then have is a feast to the auditory and visual senses. Ali becomes an over night star; the club gets a new lease in life, and the city is abuzz with this latest sensation.
If only wealthy, sexy, but unscrupulous Marcus (Eric Dane) would leave the club alone, right? Unfortunately, Tess couldn’t seem to come up with enough dough to pay for her bad loans, and the club’s existence is suddenly in peril.
I am not too fond of Christina Aguilera the personality, although I actively patronize all her CDs. She is a superstar for very valid reasons. But this cinematic outing is something that deserves real ovation for Aguilera who grabs the silver screen with magical charm and sensitivity I never expected from the singing superstar. Cher plays gravitas-bearing support to Aguilera. The rest of the cast is nothing to scoff at: Alan Cumming who performs a Cabaret-like number; Kristen Bell as the catty Nikki, Ali’s main rival; Peter Gallagher as the crafty financial adviser; Stanley Tucci as Tess’ assistant (and occasional bisexual lover); Josh Brolin does a cameo as the “other” business magnate; and of course, the irresistibly sexy Cam Gigandet who plays Jack, Ali’s bartender friend, “savior” and roommate who’s secretly falling for her!
One of my favorite scenes is Cam’s hilarious strip tease which started with him donning a ghastly red PJ, but while seducing Ali, each garments gradually come off until all that’s left is a box of nuts! Boy oh boy those nuts! LOL. A favorite musical highlight isn’t the Golden Globe-nominated “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” penned by Dianne Warren. It maybe anthemic – read: melodramatic – but it’s really Aguilera’s “Show Me How You Burlesque” that spelled blistering magic! Atta girl, Ms. Aguilera!
The film is a tad predictable, the way flicks like these usually are (“Coyote Ugly”, anyone?) but the energy, the charm of the ensemble; the pulsating, feet-snapping music and choreography; the subtle flirtations between Ali and Jack, and the good-versus-evil scenario will easily win you over! This is unadulterated fun at the movies! Go watch!
Steve Antin directs his second feature film.
Cher as the cash-strapped club owner Tess; Cam Gigandet as the unforgivably sexy Jack who's nursing a broken heart and falling in love at the same time!
Gigandet - His last name is pronounced "Ji-GON-Day".He's a black belter in the Israeli martial arts called "Krav Maga". He has one daughter.