Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Reviews: Burlesque and Other Drugs

Burlesque movie poster, property of Screen Gems.
Love & Other Drugs movie poster, property of 20th Century Fox.
Within the past week Brian and I were able to make it to the movies twice.  We finally got to see two of the Thanksgiving Weekend movies we had been wanting to see:  Burlesque and Love & Other Drugs

Burlesque AWFUL

Let's start with Burlesque.  It's the tale of a small town girl named Ali (Christina Aguilera) who quits her job at the local diner and takes the bus to Los Angeles where she hopes all her dreams will come true.  Oddly enough this is the same thing Brian and I are doing, only I doubt we'll end up singing in a burlesque nightclub like she does.  After a slew of failed auditions, she stumbles into the club and falls instantly in love with it.  She becomes a waitress, then a dancer, and then finally the star of the show once everyone realizes that she has a big voice!

And Christina really does have some pipes on her!  The musical numbers are beyond amazing, featuring both Christina and the legendary Cher who plays the club's owner Tess.  Sexy choreography, jazzy tunes, and fabulous costumes all completely razzle-dazzled me.  Who wouldn't want front row tickets to a Cher and Christina concert?  However, the rest of the movie was a bit underwhelming.

Not a lot happens in the movie plot-wise.  In fact, there was a part in the middle where Brian turned to me and said, "I'm bored."  There's an uninteresting love triangle between Ali, the bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet), and the rich guy Marcus (Eric Dane) who wants to buy the club.  The threat of losing the club is the only real conflict in the movie, and it never really feels like that big a deal.  Mostly Cher worries about it and her friend and stage manager Sean (Stanley Tucci) comforts her.  There's also a "mean" diva named Nikki (Kristin Bell) who doesn't like Ali and cries and whines a lot. 

Love and Other Drugs ADMIRABLE

Then there's Love & Other Drugs which is about a guy named Jamie (Jake Gyllenhaal) whose only talent in life is seducing and bedding women.  When he becomes a drug rep for Pfizer, he uses those skills to make friends with the receptionists, who in turn, help him to get to the doctors who will buy the pills he's peddling.  At the office of his friend Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) he meets Maggie (Anne Hathaway) who he's instantly attracted to.  They begin a crazy no-strings-attached love affair with lots and lots of sex.

But Maggie has Parkinson's Disease, and although now she's only in the first stage, she knows that it will just get worse.  For this, she doesn't want to have a real relationship, thinking that it's unfair to burden another with her illness.  Jamie's never had a real relationship in his life.  He's not even close to his family.  In fact, just having his brother Josh (Josh Gad) crashing on his couch is enough to make him angry.  So it seems like they are the perfect match -- each unable to love.  They are wrong, however, and falling in love is inevitable. 

I liked this movie more than Burlesque, mostly because there was a lot more depth to its plot.  Maggie's a complicated character, pushing people away and battling with a very serious illness.  Jamie's trying to decide what his own priorities in life are, while selling the new and instantly profitable drug Viagra (the movie is set in 1997).  The themes are all layered employing both comedy and drama, and I found myself laughing and crying in equal measures.

I will say, if you are opposed to nudity, you might want to skip Love & Other Drugs, because there is plenty of it!  I'd say a dozen or so nudie shots compared to Burlesque's one.

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