Ali Rose (Christina Aguilera) quits her job as a waitress in Iowa and moves to LA to become a performer. Because her manager won’t pay her the rest of her salary, she takes it from the till. Her friend warns her that he will come after her because of it.
After unsuccessfully applying at dance clubs she finds herself at a burlesque club. She is fascinated by the show they put on, and becomes determined to get a job there. Jack (Cam Gigandet) the attractive bartender tells her to ask to speak to Tess (Cher) for a position. Tess is very busy and sends Ali to Sean (Stanley Tucci), who in turn sends her back to Jack to leave her details. She takes matters into her own hands and starts working as a waitress, telling Jack that if she isn’t better than all his waitresses she will leave. She gets to keep her job.
Ali works as a waitress and keeps an eye on the girls, memorizing the routines. After her room gets trashed presumably by her ex-boss, Jack offers Ali his couch until she has the cash for a new place. She accepts, thinking he is gay (because of his eyeliner). He quickly tells her that he is engaged to a Natalie, a girl who is working on a play in New York. When Natalie’s play gets extended he asks Ali to become his roommate until she returns.
One of the dancers Georgia (Julianne Hough) learns she is pregnant and a replacement is needed for her. Ali auditions and convinces Tess and Sean to give her a chance. Nikki (Kristen Bell), the lead singer and bitch in the club is angry because she is jealous and competitive.
Tess and her ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallagher) co-own the club. They are in deep financial problems and the bank is threatening with closing them down. Marcus (Eric Dane) is a business man and frequent visitor of the club who wants to buy them out, but Tess is determined to keep control of the club even if Vince is trying to get her to sell. When Marcus sees Ali dancing he shifts his admiration from Nikki to her and intensifies Nikki’s dislike in Ali.
Sean notices Jack staring at Ali and tells him that she won’t be single forever. Nikki arrives drunk at work for the umpteenth time and Tess tells her that Ali is going on in her place. Ali goes on and Nikki pulls the plugs to embarrass Ali because all the dancers lip-sync the songs. As Sean is lowering the curtains Ali starts to sing and she is a raging success. Tess tells the dancers they are rewriting the show around Ali’s talent and Nikki just gets angrier about everything. Ali starts seeing Marcus socially and Jack knows it is his fault for not making a move earlier. Nikki pics a fight with Tess and she resigns and tells Tess that she slept with Vince the night after their honeymoon ended. Tess smashes Nikki’s window with a crowbar in anger.
At Georgia’s wedding, Jack fights with Natalie over the phone when she extends her stay in New-York once again. He tells Ali that he broke off the engagement and gets drunk. They sleep together afterward. The next day a furious Natalie (Dianna Agron) shows up to find them in bed together. Jack claims they broke it off but Natalie insists that she doesn’t just get dumped that easily over a phone. Jack asks Ali to leave the flat so he and Natalie can fight in peace and she leaves, very angry with him. She heads to Sean to cool off and accepts a dinner invitation with Marcus when he calls. At Marcus’ house she notices the set of buildings he plans to build on the ground where the Burlesque is. She tells him that he is wrong and leaves, and remembers something he told her previously – “air rights” – which means you buy the empty space above a building so that nothing can be built above a certain height. Ali gives the idea to Tess and they go to the CEO of the company that is building flats in front of the Burlesque club claiming beautiful views. They get them to buy the air rights on top of Burlesque and Tess has enough cash to settle her debts and buy Vince out.
Nikki shows up a few days later to apologize and admit she never slept with Vince. Tess accepts her apology and takes her back into the club. Nikki and Ali don’t make peace but acknowledges each other’s existence. Jack finds Ali and asks for her forgiveness and that tells her it is definitely over between him and Natalie. They reconcile and hey give her the song he finished “Show Me How You Burlesque” and she and the dancers perform it at the club.
Burlesque was enjoyable but not spectacular.
The movie is a B-star all-star cast with people who are busy making it in Hollywood. The more things I watch the more I see how Julianne Hough climbed the ladder. Her acting has definitely increased in the last four years but I enjoyed her as Georgia, the girl who found happiness when she didn’t think she deserved it.
The movie was something that went aiming to be Moulin Rouge and never fully got there. Firstly, Baz Luhrman wasn’t involved. I think of all the directors out there he is the only one with a heart artistic enough to make musicals properly work on the big screen. Secondly, the lead cast (Cher and Christina Aguilera) are not as good as Kidman or McGregor – although both have significantly better voices. Thirdly, the script wasn’t that good and the punch lines and sarcasm not delivered with conviction – it seemed terribly rehearsed. Christina Aguilera debuted as an actress in Burlesque, and she will never be Oscar worthy, but she isn’t a complete hopeless case. Her voice is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. The woman gives me goosebumps when she sings. Cher was distinctive and entertaining but I don’t find her a good actress. She did well as Tess, a faded star who is determined to keep what she dearly loves. I liked her stubbornness to not sell her club.
The movie had this one gaping plot hole that left me frustrated. Ali runs away from the bar she works at in Iowa, taking all the money she is owed and another waitress warns her that the manager will find her and make her pay. Her apartment is later trashed but it is never really clear that it was the guy from the bar. So did he really let her get away with everything?
The more I see of Cam Gigandet (what is with the weird surnames in Hollywood these days?!) the more I like him. Not just because of his looks which is mighty fine, but he seems to have a definite charm. He was hilarious in Easy A and played James in Twilight very well. He wore a lot of eyeliner in Burlesque as bartender slash musician. I completely understood Ali wondering about him being straight there for a bit.
Stanley Tucci is always so much fun to watch. I love him in everything. He is in the Hunger Games (excellent), the Devil Wears Prada (Really good), and he plays a mindboggling straight character in Easy A (I don’t care if he is straight or not, he is just always cast as a gay man). I always find him true to his character and he always gives an in-depth portrayal no matter what.
The costumes were spectacular. I thought the movie gave great attention to detail with the outfits and how every dancer’s was different but worked together.
Only worth watching if you enjoy musicals.