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Wilkommen to Burlesque
by Christopher Stone

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Jake is fit, fabulous - ready for LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS!

Jake is fit, fabulous - ready for LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS!
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HALLOWS, PART ONE, mangled TANGLED to remain America's Number One Box-Office Attraction over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend. TANGLED then flip-flopped with POTTER, winning the Number One spot over December's first Weekend.

This column regularly reports the box-office champs that win the hearts, minds and dollars of Match-Flickers.

That's why, this time, I'm focusing on two holiday flicks, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS, and BURLESQUE, worthy of our box-office dollars, but not lavishly favored by movie-goers.

Love stories have not rocked the box-office this year. THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE gave Match-Flickers 2010's most successful box-office love story, but it was an inter-species romance. How about a good, old-fashioned human on human love story? I had high box-office hopes for LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS.

Unfettered by tired clichés, predictability and cheap sentiment, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS is a romance that Match-Flickers should embrace en masse.

When we meet Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal) he's the impossibly handsome, ne'er-do-well son of a doctor (George Segal) and his wife (the late, great Jill Clayburgh). Libidinously-fueled, Jamie's the perpetual under-achiever until he throws his
Anne is fit and fab, but she needs a healing.

Anne is fit and fab, but she needs a healing.
professional fortune in with Pfizer's new blue boner pill Viagra. As it happens, Jamie and Viagra are a marriage made in a horn-dog heaven.

LOVE begins as a romantic comedy then evolves into a romantic-dramedy when we learn that the object of Jamie's sincere affection (Anne Hathaway's Maggie) has a life-threatening affliction.

Apparently, Jamie's a better man than he and the audience have been led to believe. He doesn't cut and run from Maggie's Parkinson's. He even survives his own Viagra-induced four-hour erection. This isn't as improbable as it sounds. The drug's ads warn that this possibility exists.

As their rocky and quirky romance unspools, Anne and Jake spend plenty of the flick's running time steaming up the wide-screen with their nude sex scenes (no complaints; they're fit and fabulous). They break-up to make-up, and, when all is said and done, we're given a happy ending, though not the pat, predictable "and they lived happily ever after" finale that Hollywood loves to deliver.

My family and I found the film highly entertaining, worth an audience's time and money, but few fell for LOVE, preferring that pubescent wizard and Disney animation.

Show a little more,
Show a little less,
Add a little
When Cher beckons, just say, Yes!

When Cher beckons, just say, "Yes!"
Welcome to BURLESQUE

Most everything about BURLESQUE evokes the legendary choreographer-director Bob Fosse, or one of his masterworks, CABARET and CHICAGO.
Cher's opening number, "Welcome to Burlesque," is virtually CABARET's opener "Wilkommen" sung sideways. When Aguilera's Ali is waiting tables but envisioning herself starring in the performance on stage, it's pure Roxy Hart (Renee Zellweger) in CHICAGO. BURLESQUE's dancers strut, prance and pose the way a Fosse chorus line would. It's all hats, hands and splayed legs. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If you're borrowing, then borrow from the best.

In BURLESQUE's case, the tried and true work again: a young woman (Ali) with raging ambition and lungs of steel, ankles her small home town, somewhere in mid America, in favor of Los Angeles. .

At thread, but not glitter, bare Club Burlesque on the Sunset Strip, Ali meets sadder, but not necessarily wiser, Tess (the inimitable Cher) who's struggling to keep herself in sequins and her insolvent club's doors open. In this endeavor, Tess is assisted by Sean (Stanley Tucci), a devoted assistant, gay, but nonetheless, not-so-secretly in love with the boss.

With more nerve than
Aguilera is amazing as BURLESQUE's Ali.

Aguilera is amazing as BURLESQUE's Ali.
brains and talent for the poor, Ali-Aguilera goes from cocktail waitress to Burlesque headliner. In the process, she loses her heart to sexy, sweet Jack (Cam Gigandet), a one-time Kentucky farm boy, now Burlesque's bartender. She learns about what she doesn't want to become from Wicked City man Marcus (Eric Dane), a study in oily charm and manufactured good-looks. Finally, Ali ingeniously saves Cher and her club from financial ruin.

Along the way, Aguilera belts out show-stopping numbers that would bring any Broadway audience to its feet. Cher has two memorable numbers, but it's really the Christina's show.

Cher and Aguilera's powerful pipes and presences make BURLESQUE more than worth its admission and its one hour and forty minutes time. Cam Gigandet and Stanley Tucci are sexy, sweet bonuses.

Match-Flickers were kinder to BURLESQUE in its second round. In Week Two, BURLESQUE rose from the fourth to the third box-office position. LOVE went up the chart one position in its second frame, too. Still, neither of these attractions has the audience it deserves.

We'll give Cher the last word – or lyric, as it were:

Everything you dream of,
But never can possess,
Nothing's what it seems,
Welcome to BURLESQUE.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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