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Burlesque (Blu-ray Review)

Quite honestly, I’m not sure how many people are going to spend their time reading this review or care that I’m so passionate about this title.  It’s a shame too.  Most of the same people who put me down for liking this are the ones that get upset because I never saw “this” or “that.”  Let’s see.  How does the old saying go?  I think it’s “to each their own” or something like that.  Anyway, this review is for me.  It’s a celebration of a film I really enjoyed last year.  It’s a delicate time in my life when I will take my “man card” out of my pocket momentarily and lay it on the table as I write this and truly could care less if you hate this film or not. Although, I do sound bitter, don’t I?  LOL.

Film  

Go ahead and call it Showgirls 2 or Troll 3.  Whatever!  I don’t care.  Burlesque is about the celebration of life and the ups and downs associated with it.  It’s like Rocky without the steroids or punches.  How can I say that?  Well it’s quite simple really.  Underneath all the glitz and glamour, Burlesque is really nothing more than a coming of age against all adversity type of story.  You know…the successful kind of tales.  It’s the kind of vegetation I love in a movie as I lose myself in an elegant dreamscape and imagine a better life for myself.  If it can’t happen to me, then why can’t it happen to someone else?  That’s what I want to know!  And in the case of Burlesque, that just so happens to be Miss Christina Aguilera.

First thing’s first.  Christina Aguilera…where have you been all my life?  Why have I never recognized your…um…talents until 2010?  Alright, now that I got that off my chest…let’s finally begin!  By the way, this very well may be the shortest paragraph of my writing career.  LOL.

Dictionary.com defines “burlesque” as a humorous and provocative stag show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts and a scantily clad female chorus.  I can’t really disagree with that definition, but I would also like to add the words “Christina Aguilera” to the term’s meaning.  Pure eye candy!  And oh yeah, the girl has talent too.  Bada bing, bada boom!  In addition to the beautiful starlet, the film also features the ‘forever young” diva Cher, Stanley Tucci (one of my favorite actors as of late), Cam Gigandet, Alan Cumming, Julianne Hough, Peter Gallagher, Kristen Bell and Grey’s Anatomy TV hunk, Eric Dane (“The Stud”).  Although it’s no secret that the film was built as a vehicle for Cher to shine and pass on the torch to Aguilera, one should not overlook the performance of Tucci.  And that’s all I will say about that…for the moment.

The story of Burlesque goes a little something like this.  When we first meet Ali Rose (Aguilera) she is seen escaping her small-town doom by figuratively cashing in all her chips with dreams to make it big in Hollywood.  Tell me something (as Dave Mustaine would say in “Peace Sells”).  We all have that same dream, don’t we?  Anyway, don’t let Christina’s small stature fool you.  Beneath that brilliant and utterly sexy disguise she dons lies a very big voice reckoning to be heard by the masses.  So she just so happens to stumble upon The Burlesque Lounge by accident, attracted by the bright lights and a sultry dancer adjusting her stockings outside the club.  Isn’t that how we all choose where we are going to work?  But anyway, despite the club’s owner, Tess (Cher), wanting nothing to do with her, Ali takes it upon herself to become a waitress and flawlessly lands the gig.  If nothing else, you have to admire the girl’s spunk and determination.  Wow!  I wish I were that bold in life.

It’s not long before Ali seemingly manages to land herself within the dancing stage show.  It’s ultimately a decision that Tess will never regret.   Trust me!  There’s just one problem.  Ali will never get to show off her killer voice because they only do lip-syncing at the club.  Does that present a problem for Ali?  Of course it does, but we are talking about Christina Aguilera here folks.  She will find a way to use her super powers for all to see.  Don’t you worry!  However, with the good always comes the bad, right?  At least in the world of movies this is true.  I mean it has to be or else where is the drama?  Where are the conflicting factors that glue us to the screen?  Don’t worry.  I have your back here.  It’s during Ali’s rise to the top that a complicated “triangle” (as I term it) of problems develops.  Really though, a girl should only be this lucky.  Let’s see, first there’s the bartender (Gigandet) who befriended her in the beginning and now all the sudden has overwhelming feelings for her despite being engaged to another woman.  Everybody wants to see his cookies.  Next, there’s this sexy siren of a performer named Nikki (Bell) who grows extremely jealous of the spotlight being stole from her (I call this the Showgirls syndrome).  She’s the enemy here…obviously.  You got to have one of those.  And finally, a charming and I guess you can call him handsome entrepreneur, Marcus Gerber (Dane), has dual interests of his own, sweeping Ali off her feet and buying the club outright from Tess for his own properties.  Whoa!  What’s a small-town farm girl ever going to do to remedy all of this?  Don’t stereotype her because she’s blonde.  She’s not as dumb as you may think.  After all, this is Christina Aguilera, folks.  Don’t count her out.  She will save the day and prevail.  She has to, right?  In an effort to remain spoiler free, I’m not going to tell you anymore.

So does it take a legend to make a star?  I would say in this case it doesn’t, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either.  Truly, Christina’s character would have gained recognition one way or another eventually with her God given talents, but having a mentor like Cher could only be more than you could ever ask for, in my opinion.  Thankfully, the movie did not focus on Tess making too many stupid decisions, but every time she did, Tess was there to mentor and guide her in the right direction.  I wish we all had a Tess in life.  But perhaps more importantly, maybe the dynamic duo here wasn’t the Cher/Christina Aguilera tag team, but perhaps the Cher/Stanley Tucci tag team.  Their chemistry here was just perfect.  Sure, Tucci may be stereotyped for his homosexual roles as of late, but whatever I see him in, he’s just a solid actor and he knows how to deliver.  I look forward to many more Tucci film roles.

How many Marilyn Manson fans do we have here?   Can I see a show of hands?  Oh alright, I can’t really see your hands anyway.  It was just a figure of speech.  Don’t get your panties all in a bunch.  The film and accompanying soundtrack, for that matter, features a very remixed and refreshingly reprised version of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” and it rocks, in its own little unique way.  If nothing else, it put a smile on my face.  But as my fellow reviewer Gerard Iribe jokingly said, Marilyn Manson’s “M0bScene” music video is more “burlesque” than this film.  Who knows?  Maybe he’s right.  All I know is that I simply adore this film for what it is.  Simple.  And last but not least, let’s not forget all the truly beautiful people within this film.  I’m not sure how Cher manages to still look like she is in her elder 40’s, but she’s doing something right without having to don the KISS makeup.  And what about all the other girls?  Well the dancers of The Burlesque Lounge can turn a frown upside down on my face any day of the week.  Enough said!

Video  

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment puts the glitzy word of Burlesque on display with an1080p AVC MPEG-4 video transfer framed in a widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio.  Alright, here’s the deal.  Before we get any farther into this section I have to get this off my chest.  As much as it pains me to trash and pick apart one of my favorite gems from 2010, I’m a critic, and it’s my civic duty.  Sony!!!  What did you do?  Remember all the complaints from the hi-def community when they rereleased Predator on Blu-ray?  What did they call it?  Waxy?  Well, that’s the exact same thing going on here.  Now let’s be fair to Predator.  I have never seen the rereleased Blu-ray.  I’m only going by what I read and trying my best to make an effective comparison statement here.  But what the hell?  Everything is perfect here except this waxy/glossy/veneer look they mastered in when they seemingly tried to remove all the film grain.  Ugh!  This deters all sharp details throughout the Blu-ray’s 119- minute runtime.  The colors are all vibrant and consistent looking.  Black levels, while not the best I have ever seen, are passable.  Skin tones all look acceptable.  There’s no film scratches, blemishes or dirt.  But it’s that damn lack of detail that’s bothering me.  Despite all the super characteristics of the video quality here, there is just no way I could ever rate this more than a score of 4.  And I think I’m being quite generous if I do say so myself.  But by the way, wow!  Christina looks absolutely amazing in that gray shirt nightgown she dons in a few scenes.  What’s that song?  Oh yeah…”Take My Breath Away.”

Audio  

Well the video may not be perfect, but the audio damn sure comes close.  Sony serves us a heaping helping of 5.1 DTS-HD MA here.  I initially grew worried about the lack of rear activity in the opening scene, but once Christina sang her first song the surround track blossomed with vitality.  It was literally night and day.  In fact, the bass is simply unreal.  It rocks harder than Kiss’ Wal-Mart CD, Sonic Boom.  The kicking bass aggravated the hell out of my dog.  I found her whimpering in the bathroom.  Poor girl.  Musical accents, symbols, ambient noise effects, screams and cheers make themselves prominently known in the rear channels.  The film’s dialog is always and clear and understandable.  But the real treat here is the performance of the movie’s theme song, “Express.”  Now that is one hell of a sonic treat.  It’s like tiramisu to complement a stupendous Italian dish.  It simply grabbed a hold of my Onkyo system and never let go.  This is what a musical should sound like!  Like Jimmy Walker, the surround mix in Burlesque is “Dynamite!” The disc also includes a lossless French track and English, French and Spanish subtitles.  Bon appétit.

Special Features  

Well besides Christina, believe it or not there are some Special Features to talk about here.  Yea!  Surprisingly, there’s more than I expected with this release.  I don’t know why I wasn’t expecting a lot, but I got enough.  The stupid thing is that there’s a separate DVD copy of the movie packaged in here, but no Digital Copy.  What the hell?!  Anyway, or thankfully depending on how you look at it, all the Special Features here are in High-Definition.  That’s got to count for something, right?  With the addition of a Director’s commentary and my love for the film I feel I can confidently award the Special Features a score of 3.  There’s not an abundance of wealth here, but I think there’s just enough for the fans.  That’s the important thing.  So without further ado, let’s dive head over heels and tackle everything you are going to find here.

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Steven Antin – I bet you can’t guess what this one’s about? I’m messing with you, of course. Fans of the film should give this one a listen. Everyone else probably won’t be interested. The choice is yours.
  • Blooper Reel (HD, 5:09) – Don’t you think 5 minutes of bloopers for a non-comedic film like this is a bit excessive?  Personally, I could do without it.  But it’s kind of funny.  There was this one scene where it looked like Eric Dane, honest to God, was getting pissed at Christina blundering all her lines.
  • Alternate Opening (HD, 6:31) – This one s pretty self-explanatory.  There’s a reason why this wasn’t used, right?  Personally, I like the one they chose to use over this one.  The theatrical opening offers us just a tad more of character development as it regards to Christina.  And that’s important.  Right folks?
  • Burlesque Jukebox (HD) – This feature allows viewers to play song performances in sequential order or shuffle them.  There are six songs in total.  If you are a fan of the music here, then I’m sure you will be an instant fan of this.  You are able to view full and uncut performances.  It even has a little onscreen jukebox interface when selecting what song or songs to watch/listen to.  Clever!
  • Burlesque is Back! (HD, 3:19) – This quick featurette examines the history of burlesque.  Steven Antin gives us his insight of this history and where the idea to write this movie originated.   The rest of the cast chimes in.
  • The Performers: The Cast of Burlesque (HD, 8:50) – Well if the title of this featurette doesn’t give it away, then I truly do not know how to help you.  It starts by featuring you know who.  Hell yeah!  Christina!  Believe it or not, this is Christina’s first big feature film.  Seems like she waited for the perfect role.  What do you think?
  • Setting the Stage: Production Design & Photography (HD, 4:10) – The cast and the crew talk about the main club in question here, the Burlesque.
  • Inside the Dressing Room (HD, 5:46) – The cast and crew talk about the costumes worn throughout the movie.  I think Julianne Hough is pretty.  Okay, enough said!  LOL.  And by the way, Christina wore the most crystals.  You go girl!  Steven Antin also talks a little bit about how beautiful Christina is.  I knew I liked this guy.
  • The Set List: The Music & Choreography (HD, 11:02) – Once again, I’m sure you can figure out what this featurette is all about.  Go behind the scenes and take a quick behind-the-scenes look at the musical numbers and on set choreography.
  • MovieIQ+sync Featuring the Burlesque Playlist – MovieIQ+sync allows viewers to access live trivia information about the movie’s cast, crew, music and production and arrange/add favorite musical songs to a unique Burlesque playlist.  Interesting, huh?
  • DVD Copy (SD, 119 minutes) – Enough said!

Final Thoughts  

You’re not going to see anything new or revolutionary in the world of filmmaking here, but you will be treated to your fair share of glitter, gams and glam.  What more can a guy ask for?  Thank you Christina!  Ha ha.  Okay.  Let’s be honest.  This one is mostly for the ladies.  I admit.  But it doesn’t mean us guys can’t enjoy it, does it?  See.  That’s the spirit!  And while Christina may be having her share of problems as of late with the press (drunken behavior, falling down and butchering the National Anthem), she’s nothing short of perfect here.  So whether you are a longtime Cher fan, a Christina one or even a fan of musicals in general, I think you will find what you are looking for with Burlesque.  It didn’t take home any awards last year, but this Blu-ray holds a special place in my heart and that’s truly all that matters to me.  I’m sure all the other reviewers out there will probably have a bone to pick with me over my high film score, but I’m ready to face the heat and stand up for something I believe in.  Go ahead.  Cast your proverbial stones.  I’m strong.  I will survive.

Burlesque will be available on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack tomorrow, March 1stPre-order your copy today and bring the music home!

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Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

4 Responses to “Burlesque (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Gregg

    This was a decent movie. Granted, Aguilera could better her acting skills some, but the film delivered a story that was functional and the musical numbers were great, especially at the end.

  2. Big Boys Oven

    fabulous! a must have

  3. Sean Ferguson

    I haven’t seen it but I will refrain from joking about it since you seem to have taken our jokes much more seriously than we intended last time. I’m glad you enjoyed it and I’ll eventually take a look at it since you liked it so much.

  4. Brian White

    Thanks BBO!