Burlesque

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Burlesque Movie Poster Image
Sexy musical is forgettable despite talented stars.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 119 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 23 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Amid the showy dancing and soapy drama are some positive messages: for example, that the road to success doesn’t necessarily need to be paved by the flattened souls you tread on while clambering to the top. Plus hard work trumps the easy way out, and loyalty matters.

Positive role models & representations

Although many of the characters are broad caricatures, a few have more complexity. For instance, Ali and Tess both want to make the most of their talent without stepping on anyone else’s toes. Their determination and dogged work ethic help them reach their goals.

Violence

After a drunk woman insults her mentor, she's paid back by having a tire iron swung at her car window.

Sex

Lots of scenes of burlesque performers dancing suggestively in barely there costumes. A man walks around naked -- his backside is briefly visible -- to pique the interest of a woman he likes (even though he's still somewhat attached to his long-distance girlfriend). They’re shown kissing and lounging in bed under covers. Some references to a passionate one-night stand between friends. A character picks up a DJ at a party.

Language

Some swearing, including “ass,” “bitch,” “s--t," "prick," "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," "crap," "oh my God," and one use of "f--k."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Some social drinking at a nightclub. A dancer shows up at work drunk and is shown a few times trying to sneak a drink. Later, she drives while under the influence. A man gets sloshed at a party.

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bykhan2705 February 9, 2011

a visual dazzle, forgettable and weak screenplay, plot.

Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a small-town girl with a big voice who escapes hardship and an uncertain future to follow her dreams to LA. After stumbling upon The...
Parent of a 16 and 17 year old Written byChristina Youge May 14, 2013

Awesome!

Even though this movie is a little risky, as long as you know your child, it is a great movie about following your dreams.
Teen, 13 years old Written byCheeseisdabomb2 December 22, 2010
I am 13... an i thought the movie was AMAZING! I thoght it was perfectly fine for my age group. On the other hand, i am very mature for my age and I think that...
Teen, 13 years old Written bylivnada April 4, 2011
i honestly think this movie is aweful

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?

Movie details

For kids who love musicals

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