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With 'Burlesque,' Christina Aguilera follows an undesirable pop-star path

November 29, 2010 |  7:00 am

Britney Spears flopped with "Crossroads." Mariah Carey bombed with "Glitter." And now, apparently,  things didn't exactly work out for Christina Aguilera and her movie of musicial becoming, "Burlesque."

Slotting a shiny pop star into a shiny pop movie must seem like the most logical idea in the world at the time that a director or producers comes up with it. But the box-office performance of the Aguilera-Cher movie this weekend once again proved it's not easy for a mega-selling singer to make the jump to acting.

After dreadful reviews that pummeled (among other things) Aguilera's acting, "Burlesque" opened to $17.2 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend -- not an unmitigated disaster, but hardly a blockbuster success either, especially considering the movie's marketing assault.

What is it about pop stars, particularly female ones, that has us loving them in our iPods but turning up our noses when they turn up on the big screen? I suppose you could say it's simply a matter of their skills not translating into a new medium. But history suggests otherwise; Doris Day was one of several stars from another era who went from musical stardom to big-screen fame.

Maybe, then, it's a question of not wanting to see a contemporary multi-platinum recording artist as an ingenue, as Carey was in her film and Aguilera was in this one. Or maybe we just find a singer playing a singer, as so many do in these contemporary films, just a little bit redundant. 

In fact, sometimes it seems as though the only time we truly like a pop star on the big screen is when said star is doing something very different from what made her famous. We eventually came to embrace Carey in "Precious," Madonna in "Evita" and even Cher herself once she left behind her early roles in light music movies and moved on to the likes of "Mask" and "Silkwood."

So maybe music stars can make a go of it on the big screen. But they need a certain amount of chops, a good role and a lot of discernment. Be very careful, Lady Gaga.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Christina Aguilera in "Burlesque." Credit: Screen Gems


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