Burlesque looks like someone thought it would be a good idea to cross-breed Moulin Rouge with Coyote Ugly and rip off the shiny parts of Chicago while they were at it. It has neither the storytelling skills at work in Moulin Rouge nor the sense of humor, and while Coyote Ugly was not much a movie in itself, it showed far more sincerity and backbone than Burlesque. We didn’t need a movie to show us that Christina Aguilera is a far better singer than Nicole Kidman, but apparently we did need a movie to show us that she’s not even half the actress.
There are some effective moments, such as: Alan Cumming threatening to wash Aguilera’s mouth out with Jagermeister, Aguilera hiding behind ostrich-feather fans while wearing nothing but a few strategically placed strings of pearls, and Cher moving towards a mother-figure role with Aguilera, but they’re all very brief and truncated. The trope of “humble but talented girl from middle of nowhere makes good in big city” is satisfying if done right, but the script has no interest in taking the time to develop Aguilera’s character, and she is far too pleased with herself to make us care about Ali from Iowa.