I just saw Burlesque, the musical feature-length film starring Christina Aguilera and Cher:
First, the bad. This movie isn't going to change your life, empower humanity, or even beg a second viewing. It's "Coyote Ugly" with the pizzazz of "Chicago". Unfortunately, "Coyote Ugly" was a vile chick flick marketed like a guy movie – nowheresville girl boldly challenges the world with only her musical skill, an impossibly handsome gentleman aides her, some stardom+relationship drama, then happy ending. Pretty and poppy, but nothing substantial occupies your mind afterward.
The veil of cinema broke for me when Cher declares "You didn't tell me you could sing like THAT!" It's similar to "Fight Club" when Brad Pitt declares "We were raised by television to believe that we'd be millionaires and movie gods…" ChristinaAguilera = singer just like BradPitt = millionaire movie god. Anyone with ears and eyes knows that.
Second, the medium. Sexy ladies, foot-tappin' song numbers, and vigorous dancing offset the weird characters, strange pacing, and far too much makeup on the two leads. Aguilera acts somewhere between cute and excited the whole movie. Cher manages cute, excited, frustrated, dejected, and relieved through her clown mask, proving she's still got some acting chops.
Third, the good. Cher has the best song in the movie similar to how "Mr. Cellophane" is the best song in Chicago. The best sequence is the final song's call-and-answer exchange between Aguilera and the horn section – the person that made the trailer agrees. Trumpets are awesome even if they get zero screen time.
Finally, there's one unquestionably great thing in this movie – Aguilera's raw singing talent. Her "mutant lungs" can sing anyone into the ground. My favorite songwriter Linda Perry is also credited on the soundtrack. Christina Aguilera + Linda Perry is a formula for excellence in my book. However, given 30-year-old Aguilera is just now getting into musical movies, I can't help but feel hurt that the human race won't fully capture and utilize her immeasurable singing talent.
For comparison, take singer Celine Dion. She designed herself a 5-night Las Vegas show for 4 years – a performance schedule that would kill most people! Why? She loves to sing. Celine Dion has wielded her substantial singing talent deftly.
I have a burning hatred for incompetence and if you're terrible at your job or responsibility, I'll tell you flat to your face to improve or get out. The only thing I despise more is squandered excellence. Aguilera is a powerful instrument in need of equally powerful vocal material and the world's biggest megaphone. I don't think (or want) "Burlesque" to be Aguilera's artistic climax. She stands to learn a lot from her co-star Cher's accomplishments…before it's too late.
To reflect on that, here's the winning formula Christina Aguilera + Linda Perry in the music video for "Hurt" which happens to be Aguilera's directing debut: That music video is much better than the movie I just saw.