Misfortune pursues sinners,
but prosperity rewards the righteous.
This chestnut of a film follows the old formula of “girl from the sticks makes it big in show biz.” Ali (Christina Aguilera) is fresh off the bus from Iowa when she discovers the flashing lights of the Bur lesque Lounge, outside of which a scantilly clad dancer gives her a welcoming glance. Ali asks about a job, and Club bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet), liking her from the start, points to retired dancer Tess (Cher) as the club’s owner. As the various dancer/singer’s perform, Tess turns the applicant down, but Ali persists. Instead of leaving she grabs a tray and starts waiting on customers, and when Tess discovers her still there, Jack urges his boss to add her to the staff.
The club has not been doing well, so that real estate developer Marcus (Eric Dane) keeps coming around trying to make Tess an offer she cannot refuse. He wants to tear down the club and build luxury condos. Her ex-husband Vince (Peter Gallgher) and business partner urges her to accept, but she keeps refusing. In the meantime, when Ali is put out of her room for lack of payment of the rent, Jack lets her sleep on his sofa. He does not invite her to share his bed because he has a fiancee in New York, so Ali falls prey to the blandishment of Marcus, attracted to her when she at last sings and dances. In keeping with the genre,Ali gets her chance to dance, doing it so well that the club’s main dancer, jealous of her, turns off the power during the middle of a routine, leaving the startled dance ensemble frozen. After a long pause, Ali blasts out with a song, her voice so powerful that it could have filled Carnegie Hall, and her ascent to stardom is assured.
There still are unpaid bills that not even the revenue from the extra patrons now crowding in to watch Ali can match, and other complications, such as Ali’s being wooed by the unsavory Marcus while Jack, his engagement broken when his fiancee reurns and finds Ali in the apartment. Ali herself is upset because she had thought he had already broken up with the girlfriend. My minor pleasure came from watching Cher and Stanley Tucci, the later playing the stagemanager, and of course, the singing of Christina Aguilera. The film suffers from the usual movie unrealism of the caberet-size stage expanding at times to arena size with elaborate lighting effects and flashy costumes that would have cost thousands of dollars far beyond the means of such a failing club. By all means, if you want to see another musical, watch this on cable or DVD. Keep your expectations low, and you too might find small pleasures in the film.