All right, guys. Let me apologize in advance. This week’s two movie “Surf & Turf” review is… a hot mess.
In case you’re new here, every week, my husband and I choose two movies to watch together. He picks one, I pick the other, and we enjoy a date night. We don’t base our choices off of what the other one is picking, and the pairing can be anything from Wine and Cheese to Wine and burnt hotdog buns.
This… was a hotdog buns week. Let’s take a look at Starship Troopers and Burlesque and review why these two should not be paired for a double feature movie review.
Starship Troopers Review
This movie fucking rocked.
And yes, I know I’m late to the game in realizing that.
If–like me–you’re a Starship Troopers newbie, the movie is a political satire disguised as a humans-versus-aliens war movie.
Don’t get me wrong, the humans-versus-aliens war movie was decent. But the hidden political satire–which Vuk admitted went over his head when he watched this movie as a kid–is really what made Troopers shine.
The movie takes place in a future where violence supposedly solves everything. Children are handed guns at a young age. Accused criminals are captured, tried, sentenced, and executed on the same day without time or hope for appeal. Even “censored” television footage showcases way more blood than I’d ever expose my child to.
Considering today’s heated socio-political climate, Starship Troopers felt fresh, original, and impactful.
About the only negative thing in this movie was the fact that everyone was cheering for Carmen when she wheeled her starship around and very narrowly missed hitting the edges of her parking spot. I know, I know, it’s supposed to show that she can handle the spaceship well in tight spots. But in real life, no one would commend a rookie for showing off on her first day in the driver’s seat. They would tell the rookie to respect the fucking multi-billion dollar vehicle and get her head–and ego–out of her ass.
That annoying moment aside, this movie kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, somehow telling a compelling story about friendship, love, and coming-of-age while also holding up as a satirical allegory.
My favorite take-ways from this movie include:
- The unexpected appearance of a young Neil Patrick Harris as one of the tertiary characters. Be still, my heart.
- The beautifully-executed line, “Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has.”
- The fact that humans were really the bad guys in this movie, but the propaganda-like telling of the story ensured no one said so directly
Chosen By: Husband
Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Live, Die, Repeat
Overall Rating: 9.5/10
Look, guys. Sometimes, you just have to be woman enough to say, “I made a mistake.”
That’s what happened with Burlesque.
The worst thing is that I’ve seen this movie before, back in college. I remembered it being powerful and strong and heartbreaking. I don’t know if that memory was colored by a few too many “special” fruit punches or if it was just because that was when I was first getting exposed to musicals, but the rewatch on this film was a total let down.
But let’s talk pros. It’s not like there was nothing good about the movie. There were a couple of things that kept Vuk and me sitting through the whole 2 hours (more than two hours. We have to pause so I can pee. A lot).
- Cam Gigandet is hot AF (admittedly, more of a pro for me than for Vuk)
- The platonic love between Cher’s character and Stanley Tucci’s character was amazing, and there should really be more of this kind of representation in media
- The burlesque choreography was really pretty, and it gives you a good introduction to what burlesque is (and isn’t)
- The singers could really sing
So, how is it that this movie, with its all-star cast and heart-warming story, barely held our interest?
Put simply: it wasn’t really a musical.
Sure, it had lots of music in it, but the music didn’t do anything to further the story. It was just shoved in there–an excuse to show off burlesque costumes and choreography while occasionally featuring their vocal talents.
The story was… fine. It’s basically the same as Rock of Ages, except set in a burlesque club. It was predictable (and not just because I’d seen it before). The love story was probably the best part of it, and even that felt a bit trite.
Overall, the whole thing felt like something you’d see on a cruise ship after dinner. It was entertaining, in its own way. But it wasn’t a good movie.
Sorry, Vuk. My bad.
Chosen By: Me
Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Rock of Ages or Mean Girls
Overall Rating: 5/10
3 Similarities Between Starship Troopers and Burlesque
Despite the striking differences between Starship Troopers and Burlesque, the two movies had more in common than you might think. Here are three key similarities between these two very different movies.
Following Your Own Path
In both movies, the main characters are young adults who are trying to figure out their own paths in life.
In Starship Troopers, the main character is a rich, entitled young man who chooses to enter military service despite the fact that his parents threaten to cut him off if he doesn’t follow their dream of going to Harvard. In Burlesque, it’s a young woman who leaves her small-time waitressing job to follow her dream of becoming a singer (and, eventually, a burlesque dancer).
In both cases, the main characters have to grow throughout the course of the movie in order to become the people they’re supposed to be. Or something like that.
Both movies also use accidental moments to propel their main characters from “rookie” status to “important” status.
In Starship Troopers, the main character’s many promotions are due largely to the fact that the person who was in that position died in combat and Rico was in the right place at the wrong time.
Burlesque’s “accidental promotion” was a bit more overt, coming as a result of the fact that Ali’s rival, Nikki, cut the music in the middle of a show and Ali was forced to improvise. Unfortunately, Nikki didn’t realize that Ali was played by Christina Aguilera and was, therefore, shocked when Ali managed to sing her way through the rest of the set.
Totally Expected “Unexpected Romance”
Both movies have romances as a B-plotline, and in both cases, the romance is set up at the beginning of the movie as “impossible” and then becomes possible in a way that was maybe supposed to be unexpected but was totally expected.
In Starship Troopers, Rico only enters the federalist service to impress his high school girlfriend, Carmen. Despite the fact that his best friend, Dizzy, is clearly in love with him, Rico has eyes only for Carmen.
No one is surprised when Carmen dumps Rico shortly after they both enter the federalist service. And despite Rico initially being rude to Dizzy when she joins the same squad he’s in, no one is surprised when he eventually falls in love with her, either.
In Burlesque, Ali initially thinks that bartender Jack is gay, and when she eventually finds out that he’s straight, it’s because she learns that he’s engaged to a woman following her dream in a different city. Despite this obstacle, Ali eventually wins Jack’s heart, and Jack dumps his fiancé to be with her.
And once again, no one is surprised.
Overall Surf & Turf Rating
The issue with the pairing of Starship Troopers and Burlesque has nothing to do with genres or whether or not they have compatibilities. The issue is that Starship Troopers was fucking amazing and Burlesque was… meh. It was like eating quality escargot–the kind that’s all buttery and melts in your mouth–and then washing it down with a pint of flat soda.
Double Movie Rating: 6/10.