Burlesque (#2)

When I was about 16 years old, I was obsessed with Coyote Ugly. I mean, embarrassingly so. I saw it in theatres at LEAST thrice, wore out my VHS copy, and had the entire soundtrack memorized (Pretty sure I still do.) I’m not entirely sure what it was about the film I enjoyed so much, outside of “the guy is hot and has an Australian accent, and ooh dancing!” but I remember there being a big to-do at the time about how it was degrading to women and whatnot. I also remember thinking everyone was crazy and the movie was AWESOME. Because clearly, I have been a discerning film buff all my life. Clearly.

Now, 10 years later, my theory is that the film was simply ahead of its time. Because after viewing Burlesque this past weekend with my mother, I’ve determined that they’re pretty much the EXACT SAME MOVIE. Except with a bit more singing and a lot less Australian hotties. Observe!

* Small town girl moves to the big city in the hopes of becoming a STAR! Ends up at a charming little bar with sexy dancing ladies: Apparently, if you want to make it as a singer/dancer/superstar, you need to move to either LA or New York (ONLY MAJOR CITIES IN THE CONTINENTAL USA) and then dance at a bar in skimpy outfits. Don’t worry, in less than a year all your dreams will come true! And you’ll get to have sexy fun times singing and dancing on bar-tops! Win/win!

* Bar owner is older, wiser, and tough as nails; eventually, she becomes like a mother figure to our motherless heroine: Both films take place at charming little dives run by sassy, strong, older (Read: over 35) women. These ladies know what their patrons came to see – sexy young girls shaking it in revealing outfits. And they are not above tearing a piece of their dancer’s shirt or helping them apply lots of sexy makeup to get the boys’ attention. They also take no crap and enjoy the occasional bitchy one-liner. By movie’s end, they have become the mother figure to our motherless lead who is desperate for female guidance. Piper has no confidence! Christina doesn’t know how to put on makeup! Boss ladies to the rescue! Note: both ladies’ names are one syllable – Lil and Tess. I’m not sure what the significance of this is yet, but I think it has something to do with them having no patience for nonsense like extra syllables.

* The bitchy dancer rival: It just ain’t a chick flick without a bitchy rival – in these films, an evil brunette to our innocent blonde, who may or may not end up friends with our heroine at the end, but at the very least will have grown to respect her as an equal. In Coyote Ugly, Bridget Monyahan appears to hate poor little Piper Perabo simply because she is NEW. And new is BAD. In Burlesque, she’s embodied by Kristen Bell (one of my top five girl crushes) and while Bridget eventually grows to become almost friends with our heroine, Kristen Bell sticks to her bitchiness to the very end, refusing even to smile back when Christina attempts to make peace. How unnecessarily cold! I love it.

* The hot boy-toy male lead who ends up showing more skin than any of the ladies: When I was 16, Adam Garcia was the bee’s knees. I still get a little swoon-y when he pops up in things I watch. Cam Gigandet has been a bit of a (not so) secret crush of mine for going on 5 years now. And the secret delight in both films for me was when the men got down to their skivvies (for Cam, a lot less than that, hubba hubba.) I won’t lie, the only thing that could have made Burlesque‘s scene better would have been dancing, like in Coyote Ugly.

* The heroine wins people over with impromptu singing: Some more words of advice for aspiring superstars: once you have that job dancing in a bar, make sure that when things go wrong, you burst into song. Need to break up a fight? Power cuts in the middle of your dance number? No problem! Just grab a mic! People will be so impressed with your spontaneous singing, you’ll become an overnight sensation!

It probably sounds like I didn’t like Burlesque – on the contrary, I thought it was campy, hilarious fun. I’ll be listening to the soundtrack for the next six months, guaranteed, and I still can’t get some of the incredible dance sequences out of my head. But I think the most impressive endorsement for the film for me was when my mother turned to me as the credits rolled and said, “I want to see that again!”

Now, I inherit many things from my mother – my looks, my love of a good sale, my logic, my appreciation for theatre, my aversion to earwigs – but my movie fanaticism? That is not my mother’s doing. My mom tends to watch a movie once, say either “That was good!” or “I didn’t care for that,” and then NEVER WATCH IT AGAIN. There are very, very few movies my mom has seen more than once and the ones she has seen repeatedly are usually ones that myself, my brother, or my father watch repeatedly and she thus got sucked into as well. So to have my mother, queen of the one-time viewings, turn to me and exclaim “I want to see that again!” is a pretty big deal. Well done, Burlesque. Well done.

One complaint: Way to totally WASTE Alan Cumming. THE MAN WON A TONY FOR HIS PERFORMANCE IN CABARET, AND YOU GIVE HIM ALL OF THREE LINES AND A JOB AS A DOORMAN?! BOOOOO, BURLESQUE! I DEMAND MORE ALAN CUMMING!

So, two new movies in two weeks. Not bad, but not great. Since I have absolutely no plans this weekend (shocker) I’m hoping to watch Easy A and maybe take a stab at resolution number 6 and go see The Fighter. Stay tuned for more details!

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