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Stars: Christina Aguilera, Cher, Cam Gigandet, Eric Dane, Stanley Tucci, Kristen Bell, Peter Gallagher, Alan Cumming, Julianne Hough, James Brolin, Glynn Turman

Director: Steven Antin

Alas, this gaudy musical just can't carry through from its fabulous, bump-and-grind opening number, reminiscent of the songs from Cabaret - and devastatingly well delivered by Cher who, despite being restricted to two songs (by star and co-producer Aguilera?) steals the movie from under the shouty songthrush's nose.

You keep hoping that, after an outstanding first reel, the film will get better, but it never does, frustratingly failing to cash in on its high-camp, high-adrenalin ideas, and focusing instead on the fortunes of small-town girl Christina, who bullies her way into employment at the gritty Burlesque club in Los Angeles, at first as a waitress, then a mime singer.

Apart from the sidelining of Cher as a musical attraction, the script should have given the gay characters played by Tucci and Cumming their heads, while leading man Gigandet is more interesting in eye makeup and bowler hat than in the conventional boyfriend role, as he shares his apartment with the homeless (and charmless) Aguilera.

He's not as dull, though, as star-billed Eric Dane, who wants to buy the club from Cher's ex-hubby (Peter Gallagher) for a condo redevelopment. Tucci's great as always, but no one else here acts much, and the incision and sheer wallop of the film's opening scenes is soon dissipated by the worship of its diminutive-if-enhanced star.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Sony (Screen Gems). Colour by deluxe.
119 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 11 Dec 2010