‘Burlesque’: Turn back time. Please.
Christina Aguilera is a gay icon. Cher is a gayer icon. Without knowing anything else about “Burlesque” (and really, what else is there to know?), the beyond-campy bore would’ve been the gayest movie of 2010. But throw in the gay adjacent Stanley Tucci playing gay again, the gay-for-real Alan Cumming and, you know, the fact that the movie is a throwback musical and there’s not a number high enough on the Kinsey Scale to rank “Burlesque.” One thing, though, that can be gauged is how eye-rolling ridiculous out filmmaker Steven Antin’s directorial debut (a.k.a. My Expensive Reason to Work With Cher) is. The almost-nonexistent plot is simpler than Aguilera’s one-note acting (where was the alcohol then, people?) – small-town girl gets a shot at showing off her “mutant lungs” and helps Cher, as Cher essentially, save her flopping nightclub. Some of the songs register, namely the icon’s Oscar-nod-robbed “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me” and Aguilera’s beautiful ballad “Bound,” but since the film is mostly confined to the lounge, there’s not much to look at besides Cam Gigandet, who’s stuck in the I’m-only-here-to-look-hot role. The Cher-Stanley scenes are the best, playing off each other like longtime BFFs. Obviously they had fun – something “Burlesque” needs more of. Some comes in the way of EXTRAS, where there’s a goofy bloopers reel, a director’s commentary and an alternate opening scene (one was enough).
‘Love & Other Drugs’: More like ‘Sex & Other Things You Do With Your Privates’
It’s about a pharmaceutical rep who, while shadowing a doctor, meets a closed-off, kinda crazy broad. She’s got health issues; he’s falling for her. So what. Let’s get to what really matters – seeing Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway’s bits hanging out. And for the record, they both have porn star bodies. But “Love & Other Drugs” has more going for it than some shagging, though there’s lots of that too. Chemistry sparks between its hot leads, who cry, fight, laugh, have more sex (after they boinked in the backseat of a car in “Brokeback Mountain,” this was like riding… a bike again) and as much as they fight it, love takes over. And then sex. And then love again. Add health-care industry commentary (it’s evil!) and a silly, out-of-place subplot involving Gyllenhaal’s brother (he’s pervy!), and the identity-plagued “Love & Other Drugs” sometimes feels like Thanksgiving dinner – it’s just too much. And the stuffing (I said it) is like gorging yourself even after you’re already full. Nice as they are to look at, and as much as boner jokes can be funny, it’s too much of a good thing, getting in the way of the story’s other fine assets – a tender tale with smarts, lots of fine acting (Hathaway at her “Rachel Getting Married” best) and rom-com characters who are real enough to fall for. More softie than soft-core would’ve done “Love & Other Drugs” a huge favor. At least the decent EXTRAS don’t over-dirty it. There are deleted scenes, in-character features and – oh, who cares. You’re only picking this up for the sex.