A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that singers Cher and Christina Aguilera star in this fairly sexy musical, which has lots of suggestive dancing and skimpy costumes, as well as a scene with a naked male backside, some kissing, and some under-covers snuggling. There's also some swearing (including "s--t" and one use of "f--k") and drinking (including a scene in which a character drives under the influence). But underlying all of the racy stuff are feel-good messages about small-town girls making good, nice guys finishing first, and being anything you want to be if you try.
What's the story?
After finally quitting her waitressing job and getting out of Dodge (aka Iowa), Ali (Christina Aguilera) lands in Los Angeles, where her plan to get a singing gig quickly goes nowhere. Then she finds the Burlesque Lounge, a popular but down-on-its-high-heels nightclub -- owner Tess (Cher) is juggling two mortgages and has creditors and a real estate shark (Eric Dane) breathing down her neck -- where burlesque is still a celebrated art. With the help of lead bartender, Jack (Cam Gigandet), Ali starts waiting tables there, but that's only temporary: Soon, she’s headlining the joint, charming Tess and her stage manager (Stanley Tucci), angering a rival singer (Kristen Bell), and falling in love. It’s all in a day’s work in the world of burlesque.
Is it any good?
How can something so good be so bad? That’s BURLESQUE. First, what works: Cher reminds us why we fell in love with her in movies like Mask and Moonstruck. Her performance is grounded and earthy, even though the look and feel of the movie is stylized and the story predictable. Tucci gives an able assist, too, in a Devil Wears Prada-like role (he does witty and supportive so well). Even Aguilera contributes; that voice simply won’t be denied.
But for a movie referencing one of the most successful musicals ever, Chicago, Burlesque is felled by an egregious oversight: the music. Except for perhaps for one or two numbers, the songs are forgettable and try too hard. What makes musicals work are impossible-to-resist songs that burrow into our subconscious. You can truss a movie up with glitzy lighting, over-the-top costumes, and a cameo by Alan Cumming (practically the patron saint of all things burlesque), but without great dialogue -- and you can tell a lot about a movie when its best line is “I will not be upstaged by some girl with mutant lungs!” -- a plot that satisfies, and lyrics and melodies that appeal, there’s no reason to come to the cabaret.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the art of burlesque. Does the film really explain what it is? How does it incorporate sexuality?
How does this movie compare to other musicals, both recent and long past?
What is it about the big city that beckons, at least in the movies, to small-town characters? What do they have that small towns apparently don’t? Do you think the media accurately portrays the difference between the two?
- In theaters: November 24, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2011
- Cast: Cher, Christina Aguilera, Peter Gallagher, Stanley Tucci
- Director: Steve Antin
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Musical
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content including several suggestive dance routines, partial nudity, language and some thematic material
For kids who love musicals
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.