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Critical Mass: 'Burlesque' -- just bad, or so bad it's good?

November 24, 2010 |  6:00 pm

Burlesque Sometimes the blistering reviews for a movie are more entertaining than the film itself. In the case of the Cher and Christina Aguilera song-and-dance vehicle "Burlesque," the critics are having a lot of fun bumping and grinding their way through their analyses:

The Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey calls the movie "top-heavy from start to finish,"writing, "Think of 'Burlesque' as one ginormous music video theme party thrown by Christina Aguilera, with Cher in the house, plus boas, bustiers and dancing girls and about a thousand humongous Broadway-style showstoppers. Which is a far better way to consider 'Burlesque' than thinking of it as a movie — there, words fail."

The New York Observer's Rex Reed says Cher fans will be disappointed by just how little they get to see of their idol, noting, "Instead of an excuse to breathe oxygen into the twilight of Cher's career, it turns out to be a slutty pasteup constructed out of spit and chewing gum to showcase the movie debut of the caterwauling Christina Aguilera."

While most agree on the movie's dreadfulness, critics are divided on whether "Burlesque" falls into the merely bad or the so-bad-it's-good category.

For Time magazine's Mary Pols, "Burlesque" doesn't descend quite far enough. Pols writes, "The movie is frivolous fun, but not, as I had sort of hoped, as sinfully awful as 'Showgirls,' Mariah Carey's 'Glitter' or Britney Spears' 'Crossroads.' Lacking the snap of 'Chicago' or the insane creativity of 'Moulin Rouge,' it's a middle-of-the-road musical."

The Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips, however, thought "Burlesque" stooped to "Glitter" territory in some satisfying ways, which poses a thorny question for a critic: how to assign a value to a movie so flagrantly bad. " 'Burlesque' is lousy," Phillips writes, "and the risible dialogue kept coming, like gray skies over Buffalo. Yet I enjoyed a fair amount of the movie's badness. Does that sort of enjoyment deserve one star? Two? A rarely deployed zero star designation, with a massive asterisk noting its potential camp value?"

"Burlesque" clearly isn't good enough for the critics, but only time will tell whether it's gratifyingly bad enough for the fans.

-- Rebecca Keegan


Photo: Stanley Tucci and Cher in "Burlesque." Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (24)

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I think it was a great movie.Yeah there was not much of a dialogue but hey ITS A MUSICAL......get it? Like this critic here says "one ginormous music video theme party thrown by Christina Aguilera, with Cher in the house, plus boas, bustiers and dancing girls and about a thousand humongous Broadway-style showstoppers" AND YOU WILL HAVE FUN.

And hey if you dont like musicals or christina then save your money you know go buy you an ice cream or something.There are different flavors for everyone.THERE EVERYONE CAN BE HAPPY NOW (and no im not a stan)

the critics are always terrible. that is why no one cares what they write. they dont have a valuable profession like us other students with actual careers. the movie was great so much fun. the critics are stupid, but we all knew that, and they know no one cares what they have to say, it has always been that way. it is just another countless job like the paparazzi blaaah blaah blaaah. exactly nothing good to say just as bad or worse than tabloids boring and never accurate .

It's not my thing, but opinions do differ: The San Francisco Chronicle calls it "Jaw Droppingly Good"


Critics, WTF do they know....Nothing.

OK, this is the third "professional" review I've read of "Burlesque", and all three skewered it mercilessly. I happen to own "Showgirls", and yes, it's ridiculous, but it's definitely in the 'so-bad-it's-good' category, i.e., campy, unintentionally funny, etc.

From the career critics' reviews I've read, sounds like Burlesque may not quite match that -- and therefore not be worth dropping my seven bucks on -- but I'm going to wait and read "real people" reviews before I make up my mind.

I'm not a Christina Aguilera fan, so she alone would not give me a reason to see something she's in.

Oh, and Jesse, you obviously haven't seen the best musicals -- West Side Story, My Fair Lady, Singing in the Rain, etc. -- or you wouldn't say something as ignorant as "Yeah there was not much of a dialogue but hey ITS A MUSICAL....get it?" Of course there's a lot of music in a musical, but the best musicals also have a great story and a wonderful script. What little "story" there is in Burlesque is evidently a rehash, and a lame, predictable rehash at that.

I'm guessing that Cher did this for the paycheck, and, so I've read, because she "wanted to sing in a movie again". And if Aguilera thought Burlesque would be her steppingstone to film stardom, just like poor Elizabeth Berkley thought about Showgirls, looks like she'd be better off making plans for a new album and tour and not wait for great film scripts to flood her mailbox.

Film critics should go the way of the dinosaur, BetaMax and dial wheel iPod. If they want to write about films in a historical sense, fine. But having an assorted collection of rarefied objectivists trying to dictate to an audience what they should enjoy and shouldn't has become asinine. Who needs them when we can write these reviews for ourselves these days?

Best to leave a film to be commented upon by someone who really loves and understands the genre for that particular movie. Having a straight guy who prefers serious character studies in French sit through "Burlesque" for example is idiotic. Of course he's probably going to hate it. Rex Reed probably detested it because he's way to archaic to appreciate Christina nor seen in her concert.

This film wasn't an exercise in high art, quite the opposite. And no one in the busy theater where I saw the movie expected that. We got what we wanted: stunning visuals, engaging songs, some pithy Cher put-downs and a really nice slice of beefcake in the male lead (bare ass and all). This was a film targeted at gay men, younger women and the older women who still wish they could leave their husbands and kids behind for a weekend and go party it up with their wild gay pals.

The bad reviews totally missed the point of this film, like so many film critics miss the point of many films today. They can't remove themselves from their college film studies course lens long enough to try to see each given film through the eyes of the fans who love or follow that particular genre. In this case, it was gay musical camp, and for that audience it was a standing ovation at the end. The film critics to retire to their dark brooding espresso haunts...leave the sexy over-the-top cabaret clubs to us gay men, metro-sexuals and busty chicks in dresses so tight their nipples looked like pressed biscuits.

Burlesque is a great movie i took my boyfriend last night and im a huge fan of xtina and he has always not really liked her but this movie just changed his mind shes sexy and flawless and we both enjoyed the movie critics are trippin i love this movie!

I thought the movie was great and yes, I would have liked to have seen more of Cher but I like Christina Aguiluar, too. They were both great. Something for the 50 year women like me who hope to look half as good as Cher when we get her age and something for the young girls, too. It was fabulous movie with two incredibly talented and beautiful women.

"Someone who really loves and understands the genre for that particular movie," is the very definition of a professional film critic.

Yo cretins: some people enjoy and--I might add--respect movies enough not to check their brains at the door. And, some people get paid to carry their brains into the theater with them--they're called critics. Nobody's stopping you from enjoying your gruel.

Critics be damned, this is a fantastically entertaining movie. Fun from the get-go, I never realized how talented Christina was, never liked her before. I walked out awe-inspired and mind-blown. Five stars!

"Yet I enjoyed a fair amount of the movie's badness" - Really? Is the 'so bad its good' defense the best you can do?

I think you are lying. Admit it.

You really loved this movie. Genuinely.

You love this superficial worship of aging stars and the gross materialism they celebrate so much that you don't understand the criticism. And therefore it offends you and your garish artistic sensibilities.

My suggestion is to either up your standards or to concede your role as an industry apologist and sycophant.

Seriously, No one with an IQ higher then their shoe size listens to career critics anymore.

It's the same old, "the move stinks on an intellectual level", trying to persuade the movie-going public that they, (people who do nothing but watch movies all day), are intellectuals.

Here's what I do, works fine for me. If it looks interesting, I go see it.

No one else has my specific taste in movies or just about anything else.

If I don't like it, I don't buy the DVD or see it again. Kind of simple really.


Ah. another rotten flick the hoi polloi like and therefore the critics must be wrong. Well, the boobeoisie are entitled to their opinion - after a season of Bristol and before the upcoming Idol, there lies a gap that the dimbulbs need their peculiar form of entertainment to fill. OK, it's no Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but it will just have to do.

I saw the film at a preview last week and found it very entertaining. It was a two hour party in fact. Good songs all around. Aguilera can act too. See this pic for yourself and let the critics have a nap.

Just saw this movie and I found it an entertaining update of the small-town-girl-makes-good movie musical fantasy. We know early on that nothing very bad is going to happen, and that no deep social issues are going to be explored, and so we can just relax and enjoy the romantic escapades of a picturesque cast who also turn out some spirited musical numbers. Cher doesn't really have a whole lot to do, but she does it well, and it was a great idea to cast her because this is just the kind of vehicle her fans enjoy. Christina Aguilera has never quite done it for me but there's no denying that she has an amazing voice and technique, and she gets plenty of chances to strut her stuff to bracing effect. Cam Gigandet makes a suitably alluring love interest, and Stanley Tucci reprises his Devil Wears Prada character with a little more avuncular charm. Yes a lot of warmed-over Fosse is on display, but it was actually pleasant to see some of that staging evoked without the bitter aftertaste Fosse always had to leave. If this sounds like a lot of "buts," yeah, it's no masterpiece, just a diverting romp. The 4pm showing at my local multiplex was packed with quite a demographic cross-section, so it appears the audience may be diverse yet united in ignoring this movie's critics.

BURLESQUE is the best Allan Carr production (or Allen Carr-esque, to be exact) since GREASE.

30 years ago Cher was fronting her own rock band "Black Rose," without even her name on the album. The critics bashed the band and the album when they found out it was her. Now she's a Grammy, Emmy and an Oscar winner, and they're still bashing her? Who the heck cares? Cher certainly doesn't. I took my mom to see "Silkwood," "Mask" and "Moonstruck" back in the '80s. My mom is 78 now and I took her with me Wednesday to see "Burlesque." She and I both loved it. Cher is still here and she's not going away. As for Christina, I wasn't a fan before, but am now. It's an incredible film. I'll be seeing it again, and buying the soundtrack and DVD. Thanks, Cher for bringing us so many years of entertainment!

To me it sounds like more Christina bashing its like there dying for a chance to watch this girl fail. I read from one critic it was as bad as a 40's musical. Really? 1930's and 40's musicals are classics for a reason and so is Burlesque. Christina and Cher are such a good team and christina is a good actress. When the movie was over me and my friends left singing an dancing and I was inspired. To hell with critics they love to push these dumb movies that suck anyway.

ok i'm from Venezuela but i'm living in miami recently and i'm studying Film Production but i'm going to say it in spanish!! mi opinion es que los criticos no hacen mas nada que joder la paciencia y definitivamente son destructores de arte!! por favor guys dejen de joder, Burlesque es una pelicula espectacular! como todo musical la mayor parte de la pelicula es musica, pero volvemos a lo mismo es un fuk%$#$ musical, asi como hay gente que no le gustan las peliculas de accion otras no les gustan las de horror, otras las de romance hay otras que no les gustan los musicales!!.. este es un mundo de millones de habitantes y cada individuo tiene gustos diferente asique no critique y esperen que el tiempo y las taquillas hablen por si solas y nos digan si de verdad es una mala pelicula, pero como dicen en mi pais " no cuenten los pollos antes de nacer"

Best Movie Musical in decades. I've been to many live shows and this was at the top for a movie would love to see it brought live someday on stage. I loved the dancing,acting, music and costumes.Thank you to all for such unbelievable performances.

The critics should've been in conservative OKC on opening day last Wednesday. As the credits rolled at the end of the movie, the entire theatre stood and applauded, me included. It really is that good. Cher deserves another Oscar nom for this. So good to see her back on the big screen. Now if she'd just do an album...!

I learned long ago not to trust the reviews of critics. They live in a different world than real people. And I'm glad I didn't trust their reviews this time either. Xtina was magical and Cher was --- Cher. I had never seen Xtina before "Burlesque" but I am impressed with her amazing talent. The best musical I have seen since "Chicago". And I see lots of movies, plays, and operas.


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