Unfortunately, my bottle of Cher perfume, given to me as a birthday present one year by Elvira, is long empty. Just like Burlesque, the film that opened this week that Cher and her once great face that no longer moves stars in. But in the case of Burlesque, I wasn’t expecting emptiness so much as a big fat Thanksgiving turkey gloriously stuffed with kitsch. I’d been whetting my lips for a year and a half since the insanely done-to-death-27,000-times-over storyline was revealed to me when I, along with God knows how many other songwriters, was asked to submit a song for the film. My co-writer dropped the ball and never handed in any of the three we did – I’ve yet to even hear a mix…..Earth to Steve…..but often when my songs haven’t made it into a film it saved me from being stuffed into too many cinematic turkeys. Unless, of course, you count Howard The Duck, which I co-wrote five songs for with Thomas Dolby. But that was just about writing with Dolby and George Clinton as, despite being excited about being in a George Lucas produced film, I knew it was headed for the turkey farm my first time on the set when Howard, a little person stuffed into a costume that looked like a pillowcase with feathers glued on, ran in.
I was so excited to see Burlesque that I even organized the first public outing of my film club, L’Chien Du Cinema, The Dog Cinema, to leave my living room and see a film at an actual theater for the first time since 1983 when we were lucky enough to have two turkeys in the same season, Pia Zadora’s monumental Lonely Lady and Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone’s immortal Rhinestone.
But, alas, Burlesque isn’t so much a turkey as one big, long, never-ending lump of white, packaged mashed potatoes. No gravy, no cranberry sauce, not even any turkey; just constant servings of the same bad blue lighting on Cher, the one forlorn look from Christina Aguilera, the same numbing beat of predictable songs and we’ve-seen-it-before-Pussycat-Dolls-with-a-hit-of-Flashdance choreography, a story as predictable as jelly slopped on top of peanut butter, and all of it hitting with such regularity that your eyeballs go numb. An endless, bombastic pile of nothing. At least my empty bottle of Cher perfume has enough in it you can still smell some brilliance of what once was.
Which is a shame as all the bad film faithfuls that came to see it with me had high hopes Burlesque would be a contemporary classic of Showgirls proportion. I even got out the old the ol’ doggie bags and filled them with gold sprayed Milk-Bones, as the tradition of L’Chien is for everyone to throw down their bones and rate the films, a 5-boner being the biggest dog and a 1-boner not even worth the price of the ticket.
Here I am walking in with RuPaul:
And here I am at dinner after the film with more of the party faithfuls where we discussed and rated the noisy pile of mush we’d just seen. (Clockwise: Christian Capobianco, Craig Fisse, Michael Patrick King, Gail Zappa, Diva Zappa, LaLa Sloatman, Bob Garrett, Charles Phoenix, me, Prudence Fenton and Pat Loud, the matriarch of the first reality show family ever.)
It was a sad night for Burlesque as far as our boner ratings went:
Out of a possible 55 bones from the eleven of us, Burlesque only got 9 and 1/32nd. It would have been 9 and 1/64th but a 32nd was the smallest bit of Milk-Bone any of us could break off.
Back to my Cher perfume, the silver paint on the cap has curdled away:
I guess that’s what Cher thought was happening to her face when she started shooting it full of whatever she shoots it full of to be left with a face that’s as immobile as a rock. It may look pretty but the only real emotion you could detect from her in Burlesque is when her eyes teared up. Twice. But I don’t want to be mean to Cher. I love Cher. It’s just that you can’t feel anything from something human that doesn’t move. And when you throw that into a movie that’s all surface/no heart or soul and shakes at the exact same frequency for two hours straight it makes you want to check your cell phone or do whatever else you can do trapped in your seat until the slop ends. My friend Diva always brings her knitting with her in case of just that. Here’s how much she got done during Burlesque:
Even this bottle of Cher perfume has a little actual something in it:
It may all be stuck in the spritzer thing but at least it’s there and you can still smell it. I was hoping Burlesque reeked with kitsch classicism, bursting with so much flavor of self-importance that I’d never be able to get the stench out of my nose. Instead it was nothing, just a big plastic inflatable turkey:
Big budget movies offend me to begin with. And one that throws so much in your face and you don’t even feel the splat really bums me out. What a nothing experience. And, by the way, how do you put Cher and Christina Aquilera in a movie together and not have a duet?! What a waste of Cher.
But I’m not here to give a movie review. I’m just here to show you a bottle of perfume.
Now the only question is what do I do with all the Milk-Bones?
Holy crap!!! There’s Mama Loud! I had no idea…… I still miss Lance. What a character he was back in my punk rock daze!
I was obsessed with ‘An American Family’ back in the early 1970’s. It was the first true reality show on TV. I totally identified with Lance.
So disappointed to hear Burlesque isn’t as wonderful/horrible as we’d all hoped, but just bland and innocuous which isn’t nearly as much fun. The trailers sure promised an instant kitsch classic. I guess we’ll have to be content re-watching SHOWGIRLS (which NEVER disappoints) or Mariah Carey in GLITTER.
I’m going to have to give Glitter another try one day. I didn’t think it was anywhere near as bad as everyone else did nor did I think Mariah Carey was as bad as everyone else. My standard for bad films is based on the mostly 60s and 70s bad films I love. I didn’t go as insane as everyone else for Showgirls either. Though Gina Gershon and Elizabeth Berkley’s performances are breathtaking. But there was too much money for production to make it as bad as I really love my bad films to be. But, without question Showgirls has far more kitsch value than Burlesque.
When I say bland referring to Burlesque I mean that everything is one note, not that it’s boring. Cher’s great to watch, Stanley Tucci is really good, I liked Christine Aguilera more than a lot of the reviews but the the elements of the film itself – music, choreography, lighting, etc. – one intensity and stay there til the end with not much difference in between. Complicated by an excessively clich√© story of it just kind of vibrates in one tone.
You’re right– GLITTER’s not in the same league as some of the others, but it’s not without its moments. The high production values of SHOWGIRLS are kind of shocking when you consider how awful the directing/acting/writing is. I’ve seen Elizabeth Berkeley in other movies and she’s actually not that bad. But in SHOWGIRLS, it’s like someone gave her speed, wound her up like a wind-up toy and let her loose in front of the camera. Just remembered another fave that you’d love if you haven’t already seen it: THE ANGRY BREED. I taped it on TV once but no longer have the video and it’s not on Netflix. Here’s a synopsis I found on a website:
THE ANGRY BREED 1968
U.S. film. Hawaii Five-O’s “Danno” as a Nazi biker dressed in full SS storm trooper regalia! He rapes a 60s bikini beach babe on Malibu beach‚Äîluckily she‚Äôs saved by a teen hero! Hero gets a break in the movie business then gets the royal shaft from big Hollywood producer! Bizarre semi-nude exotic dancer LSD costume party! Wild garage fuzz rock that sounds like Steppenwolf meets the Count V! Bikers, hippies, homos, weirdos, boozers, LSD and rock n roll! Sixties rock n roll by Jaime and The Jury, and The Orphan Egg. Murray MacLeod, James MacArthur, William Windom, Jan Murray, Jan Sterling, Lori Martin, Melody Patterson, Burt Taylor.
I don’t know The Angry Breed. Sounds fantastic. Just checked Something Weird and it’s not even there. If you ever come across it let me know.