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Overall Rating
3.82

Awesome50.42%
Worth A Look: 20.83%
Just Average: 7.08%
Pretty Crappy: 3.75%
Sucks: 17.92%

10 reviews, 180 user ratings


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Chicago
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by Erik Childress

"All the World's A Stage...Including the Wonderful Chicago On Film"
4 stars

One has to measure their mood when going to see a musical. Then again, for some it may not seem to matter. If you love ‘em, then it’ll lift your spirits after a bad week. If you can’t stand ‘em, then a good mood may be the only saving grace of tolerance. For years and years, I was of the latter. Watching an interesting story digress into spontaneous song bursts would aggravate me to the point of Elvis’ relationship with his television. As I grew older and my tastes evolved, I understood that it wasn’t the “musical” itself that I hated; it was the music itself. If the songs stank, how could I be expected to get swept up in the fantasy of it all? A good dance number, however, can be as invigorating as any action sequence I still embrace to this day and the new stage-to-screen adaptation of Bob Fosse’s Chicago works so well on that singular aspect that you may forgive its stagy interpretation.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) owns the stage in 1920s Chicago. Writhing and commanding the nightclubs in 1920s Chicago, she sets the scene for us and our toes tappin’ with a performance of “All That Jazz” that’s a showstopper...and it’s only the first song. Turns out it’ll be her farewell tour since the stage used to harbor a duet between Velma and her sister whom she murdered in a fit of passion. Admiring Velma from afar is aspiring starlet, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), who has been promised her name in lights by her lover. When he reveals his true male colors, Roxie shoots him down providing the big break to finally share the spotlight with Velma in the theater that is prison.

Catering the potential talent in Cook County Jail is Matron “Mama” Morton (a very good Queen Latifah) who advises Roxie to seek out star criminal attorney, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) who handles cases on a $5,000 cash first basis, no questions asked. Thus begins Roxie’s meteoric rise to fame in the media; the kind that has dominated our tabloid culture for the last decade, while Velma’s jealousy makes her wish she was just a little nicer to the fan who first approached her behind bars with a stargazing smile.

The cult-of-celebrity tale is one that will seem as fresh as the time, no matter what decade you see it in. Every couple of weeks a new headline overshadows the previous flavor-of-the-week until “old news” becomes more than just a slang reference. Chicago first premiered on the stage in June of 1975 to reviews calling it “too dark and cynical” (if they only knew) and initially overshadowed by the success of A Chorus Line in the same year. It’s amazing that it took a revival of this show in 1997 to peak interest by Hollywood as its songs and dance numbers rivals most of the musicals I’ve seen on both stage and screen.

From Zeta-Jones bursting through the screen in the opening number to the infamous “Cell Block Tango” and the media puppet show of “We Both Reached for the Gun”, my feet were going up and down as I had to prevent myself from snapping my fingers and clapping along to not disturb my fellow critics in the screening room. Not a single song goes unnoticed and the cast is uniformly up to giving us their all. Zellweger’s great as the mousy little fame-seeker, walking the tightrope between wanting to impress us with her song-and-dance skills and living down to her character as the “two-bit talent with skinny legs.” Zeta has the fortunate accomplishment of being born to play Velma Kelly, a little too big for her own bitchy britches with the look and body to stop traffic and get whatever she wants. Here, Zeta doesn’t just get our respect, she earns it. John C. Reilly brings his understated dim-witted charm to the role of Roxie’s forgiving husband, defined perfectly in the rendition of “Mr. Cellophane.” Gere also acquits himself well as the charming, conniving Flynn; a man who sings that all he cares about is love, but should be staring into a mirror when belting out the notes.

Chicago does have one immense flaw that prevents it from being one of the greatest musical productions ever adapted to film: it doesn’t ignore its roots. Not the roots of the 1926 fact-based stage comedy or its film incarnations by DeMille in ’28 and Ginger Rogers in ’42, but the stage itself. Every musical number in Chicago lends itself to the stage and goes so far as to actually STAGE them on a stage; so much so that the film experience might as well just be you witnessing it ringside on Broadway.

Director Rob Marshall doesn’t make much of an effort to open up the show highlights, choosing instead to play it safe like the productions he mounted of the play itself. With a title that cries out for wide-open spaces, why shelter the audience into a creeping corner when the story uses the expansive history of the great city as a metaphor for life in it? Credit editor Martin Walsh for doing a bang-up job on many of the numbers (especially the hypnotic courtroom tapdance) to keep our attention shifted away from the staginess while still maintaining the viewability of the very thing we came to see in the first place, unlike Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge whose manicness created the world’s first subliminal musical.

Then again, maybe this approach feeds into the whole “all the world’s a stage” motif that the play feeds on through the shifting attention span of its media representation. We’re the audience and while a true filmmaker could have worked some true cinematic magic with this, the mantra of “always leave them wanting more” begins to work on multiple levels. Chicago should appeal to all musical lovers and may even pull in a few stragglers out of the cold. Some musicals get mocked, others are forgotten thanks to the next big thing. I’m glad this one wasn’t and I’m disappointed that I haven’t seen its theatrical incarnation…yet. It’s not a phony. It’s not a flash in the pan. It’s the real deal. That’s Chicago.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6494&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/27/02 00:58:22
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good musical 4 stars
2/08/17 Louise Exhuberant musical. Zeta-Jones great but Zellweger miscast. 5 stars
1/07/17 Anne Great musical, effective farce on the legal system! 4 stars
3/02/15 mira storm the two towers or the pianist should've won FUCK ACADEMY 1 stars
8/16/12 edutra awful 1 stars
2/23/12 Andy Best movie musical in years, actually 4 stars
8/06/11 tomA For a guy who doesn't like musicals, I have to admit, I enjoyed this movie 5 stars
12/05/09 Jeff Wilder Overblown sure. But entertaining 4 stars
8/01/09 Samantha Pruitt loved this movie, the music is super addicting! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT DULL AND DREARY 1 stars
4/07/08 beau good! but not as good 'across the universe' but i enjoyed the acting and the songs 4 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White 15 seconds of fame or how to beat a rap 4 stars
3/15/07 becca umm wasn't so crazy about it 1 stars
2/22/07 Weblynx total fun, vampy, and would watch this a bunch of times 5 stars
2/18/07 Nick Maday I was obsessed with this when it came out. I still like it, but the obsession is gone. 5 stars
1/28/07 Stanley Thai Filled with high energy and great music, Chicago is a great film! 5 stars
1/28/07 Lisa Craven Catherine & Renee were outstanding & I'd love to party with them. 5 stars
10/03/06 Jim L. Burden Great Entertainment! 5 stars
4/20/06 Becky If you don't like musicals, obviously don't see this. Its a great revamp of it, tho. 5 stars
3/30/06 Thomas Semesky The iPod idiots won't like this musical, but it's a classic with great performances. 5 stars
1/02/06 Wiseman I really hated how they didnt warn me it was a Musical, i was so fucking pissed off. 1 stars
12/21/05 cody this movie got best picture, what were thinking, only good in this flim is the acting,stunk 1 stars
10/30/05 Wisamane Ide rather have sex with a meat grinder 1 stars
10/13/05 Jack Garrett The worst musical since Lion King on Ice, RUBBISH! 1 stars
10/04/05 Jesse Taylor The best musical ever. The performances, espcially Zeta-Jones' are outstanding! 5 stars
6/20/05 Bob Kendleton Hammer hammer 3 stars
5/12/05 Jennifer Regan Very entertaining, so much talent 5 stars
4/21/05 Pippin007 This movie is SOO boring! Hoe did it lose to LOTR The Two Towers??????? 1 stars
4/17/05 ELI screeeeeeeeeeeeew yoooooooooooooou 5 stars
4/16/05 nole bore fest. save your money and time, complete garbage.... 1 stars
3/25/05 Denise good 4 stars
2/22/05 gracecchu Took my mother to watch it in the theater, not a bad flick. 4 stars
2/22/05 Joseph Venanzi editing makes anyone look like Gene Kelly 3 stars
2/20/05 fiona fan-bloody-tastic. What Moulin Rouge shouldn've been! 4 stars
2/18/05 Brenda Riley I loved it, hubby hated it! 5 stars
2/18/05 Shel ACK! I was asleep 5 minutes into it 1 stars
2/17/05 Eileen Lammers Loved it... bought it!! 5 stars
2/16/05 Dusty Johnson For a musical I thought it was great. 5 stars
2/16/05 Lisa Jochelson This movie kept me interested from begining to end. 5 stars
2/15/05 Miranda Lahr Great film, that man in boxers ooo 5 stars
2/12/05 Charlene Javier Renee and Catherine were excellent! 5 stars
2/11/05 Aimee Shelton This film, like Moulin Rouge, wasn't nearly as good as all its hype. 3 stars
2/11/05 ray booooring 1 stars
2/11/05 Kenneth Flickstein Great work. Music, dance and STYLE! 5 stars
2/11/05 rebecca gilbert wasn't as much as it was made out to be 3 stars
10/14/04 MARZ BORING 1 stars
9/07/04 Douglas Reese I LOVE THIS MOVIE A WHOLE LOT!!! :) 5 stars
8/18/04 courtney loved it for a musical great cast and make ya wona dance songs 5 stars
8/08/04 usef boring 1 stars
7/19/04 DM Fuck "Moulin Rouge!"; this musical has the goods 5 stars
6/30/04 Daveman A competent stage to screen adaptation of this musical/satire but grossly overrated. 4 stars
6/26/04 May I absolutly love this movie!!! Everyone should see it. 5 stars
6/25/04 M REAL acting, brings back the spirit of movie making. 5 stars
6/08/04 JENNA MY BOYFRIEND MADE ME SEE IT. I BROKE UP WITH HIM AFTERWARDS. 1 stars
5/18/04 tina a complete bore! 1 stars
5/12/04 Vacha not all that's it's hyped up to be, but the coreography was great and so were the songs. 4 stars
4/24/04 Carla i loved the music, and the story is hilariously unreal. 5 stars
4/17/04 valerie hart great movie if you like musicles exciting scenes which make you wonna sing along 4 stars
4/16/04 Michael Greenwaldt A highly entertaining toe-tapper with very catchy songs and awesome musical numbers! 5 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 i thought this was supposed to be an awesome movie , it gave me a headache 1 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser Entriguing to the end! A musical masterpiece! 5 stars
2/28/04 chicago a bust how on earth did this win best picture. watching this was pure torture. 1 stars
2/12/04 Christopher Fantastic Musical 5 stars
2/09/04 c.r one of most dummiest musicals movie of all time! 2 stars
1/24/04 124 dribble. such boring putrid! 1 stars
1/22/04 Phil M. Aficionado Innovative and eye popping. Saw it twice and loved it both times. Bravo!!!! 5 stars
1/15/04 Voice of Reason Academy eats shit for giving oscars to this harpy vomit! "Total Crap" is too complimentary. 1 stars
1/11/04 Atanu An acute case of the emperor's new clothes. And zeta jones is Not classy. 1 stars
1/08/04 Chlo Gyllenhaal And all that jazz!!! 5 stars
1/06/04 George COOL 5 stars
1/02/04 A F FANTISTICly boring. Renee is a bad actress. 1 stars
1/01/04 christopher fantastic 5 stars
12/26/03 ezio boring 2 stars
12/19/03 regis what dribble. laughable 1 stars
12/10/03 christine awesome!!! i could watch it atleast 10 times in a row! 5 stars
12/06/03 sux aweful film. puts you to sleep. 1 stars
12/02/03 Chris Brilliant musical. 5 stars
11/21/03 benice overrated 2 stars
11/16/03 Lara BRILL!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/25/03 gera pretty boring 1 stars
10/17/03 Nunzeo I thought this movie was good. Wow the academy has really lost there minds! 1 stars
10/14/03 Jasper The Imp The Two Towers was robbed of glory by this piece of crap!!! 2 stars
10/11/03 jackson boring movie, more of a chik flick.... 1 stars
10/04/03 Karen Moore Blows UNFORGIVEN way out of the water as worst "best picture" winner ever! 1 stars
9/24/03 fern catherine zeta is a wonderful singer, she should more 4 stars
9/18/03 oOgA_BoOgA absouletely great how could u not love it 5 stars
9/12/03 Monster W. Kung Overrated, but certainly better than that Moulin Rouge drivel (but hey, what isn't?) 3 stars
9/07/03 Amanda extremly enjoyable, awsome soundtrack 4 stars
9/02/03 Kyle Pretty good (for a musical). Wished Queen L. had more than 1 number though! 4 stars
9/01/03 gary a lot of people got up and left during the movie. it was pretty boring. 2 stars
8/27/03 samantha harris 1hr 40mins of total crap! waste of money 1 stars
8/26/03 Katie everyone who says they don't like oviously has no class (pardon the pun!) 5 stars
8/24/03 Stacey Wonderful I can't stop watching it! 5 stars
8/16/03 robbie keane thought i'd enjoy this one.............save your money not worth it! 1 stars
8/07/03 terrence what was this.......complete garbage 1 stars
7/29/03 Eliza It beats Moulan Rouge 5 stars
7/29/03 Abby Who ever said that this movie is crap they are out of their minds it is the best musical 5 stars
7/17/03 Chris Whatever happened to musicals? Chicago tells us we need to make more just like it. 5 stars
7/15/03 BAD BAD 2 stars
7/13/03 STEW whats all the hoopla 2 stars
7/11/03 ingred prolly the years biggest let down.....what a shame 1 stars
7/02/03 susan wakefield wake me when it's over..... 1 stars
7/01/03 ken really dumb 1 stars
6/29/03 John Bale Sweet Charity meets Gentleman Prefer Blondes raunchy vigorous jazz musical technically tops 5 stars
6/25/03 hugh more lke shitago 1 stars
6/24/03 Jack Andrews awesome... it blew my mind away! 5 stars
6/20/03 George Jung Perfect unless you're a dumbass. 5 stars
6/15/03 caramel jenkins boring.....not a very intelligent film 1 stars
6/13/03 not impressed can u say BORING 1 stars
6/12/03 janice to bland too boring.....what a dissappointment 2 stars
6/11/03 Hepta Hooty Worst movie of 2002. Worst "Best Picture" winner ever. Sucks zombie turds! 1 stars
6/08/03 Chuck Perfect... uncool for 20 year olds 5 stars
6/07/03 INGSBY STARTS OFF COOL.....BUT HALF WAY TROUGH U'VE HAD ENOUGH 2 stars
6/06/03 tonya was'nt impressed 1 stars
5/23/03 TheOthersFan a lot like Moulin Rouge, except for one thing: it's a good movie 5 stars
5/16/03 Mrs.Bloom fabalous couldnt believe how amazing this film was a must see 5 stars
5/16/03 Turtle Never has a musical been so enjoyable! And Richard Gere CAN sing! 5 stars
5/15/03 Piz As a natural hater of musicals, this one was pretty good 4 stars
5/15/03 Chris A wonderful movie ! totally amazing. 5 stars
5/07/03 Magicalme wow good film 5 stars
5/04/03 Catherine loved it 5 stars
5/03/03 boring boring 1 stars
5/03/03 stacy please save ur money. 1 stars
5/01/03 mackie i loved it 1 stars
4/29/03 trojan helen dirty American film 3 stars
4/12/03 Joesco Top notch - Renee unexpectedly good but CZJ outclasses her as a singer/dancer 5 stars
4/07/03 Mystique I love jazz ! 5 stars
4/07/03 Jim CZJ is not only a murderer, she's a thief -- she steals this movie. 4 stars
4/06/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng The BEST movie I've seen so far this year. I can't even try to describe how much I love it! 5 stars
4/04/03 Jack Sommersby Not a classic, but a colorful and entertaining ride. Zellweger is sensational. 4 stars
4/03/03 Dominique Black Best movie I have ever seen! 5 stars
3/30/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik I love it, though it doesn't deserve Best Film. 5 stars
3/28/03 Shaun full of glitter and stage lights and all that jazz 4 stars
3/26/03 Jen It was pretty good, did have some slow points though. 4 stars
3/26/03 Morgan Chicago is the best movie ever, Well worth the effort! 5 stars
3/24/03 guisada Chicago is EXCELLENT. 5 stars
3/22/03 Cherry U HATES HAVE NO MUSICAL TASTE!.. EAT SUSHI! 5 stars
3/20/03 Michael A beyond excellent experience. The whole movie theatre was in complete awe. 5 stars
3/20/03 Natty Brilliant from start to finish. 5 stars
3/20/03 Beach Nagisa IT IS GREAT and AMAZING!!!! 5 stars
3/19/03 bam great 5 stars
3/18/03 Denise Gomez It's Phenomenal! 5 stars
3/18/03 HE GREAT 5 stars
3/17/03 Shadaan Felfeli A GREAT musical. After seeing 'The Hours'...this is very refreshing indeed. 4 stars
3/17/03 Ed it was a great film... i enjoyed it very much. 5 stars
3/17/03 Sharna i luv it! 5 stars
3/16/03 Denise Reibel I've seen it twice and can't get it out of my head. It's addictive. 5 stars
3/16/03 Chloe Fantabulous, brilliant! 5 stars
3/16/03 TouchyRogue THIS MOVIE ROCKED! 5 stars
3/15/03 Shaun brillent acting and adaption singing a bit weak in parts but catherine shines 4 stars
3/10/03 Hawkeye "And he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!" Great stuff. 5 stars
3/10/03 George Raft Great movie! Great music! Finally, an American film at its' best! 5 stars
3/07/03 frank roberts. outstanding fast-paced, great singing and dancing zellweger and jones perfectly cast, 5 stars
3/01/03 JH Coverse Wonderful!! Fantastic!! Awsome!! Zellweger was fabulous !! 5 stars
3/01/03 !! THE BEST FILM 5 stars
2/24/03 ownerofdajoint all stars...what a great flick... 5 stars
2/21/03 Mitsaso Jazzy! 5 stars
2/17/03 LoonyGoon The movie musical is back! 5 stars
2/15/03 R.W. Welch Remarkably polished and energetic musical -- exceptional performances, camera work, editing 5 stars
2/15/03 Jeff It sucked all ass 1 stars
2/13/03 V.K I loved it! it was the best! 5 stars
2/10/03 Goofy Maxwell Great, but tiresome. A little Bazzle-dazzle mighta woken my azz up. 4 stars
2/08/03 Kooler Zzzzzz. Zellweger about as compelling in this role as a dog scratching itself. 3 stars
2/02/03 thejames Not bad film, but not great. 3 stars
2/02/03 scott A GREAT FILM 5 stars
1/30/03 Jake exhilarating! 5 stars
1/28/03 Angolmois I hate musicals but I almost enjoyed this one. 3 stars
1/28/03 Angry Black Man Would have been better if REAL singers were cast. 4 stars
1/28/03 Ed Parry A fabulous film. I actually wanted to applaud some of the musical numbers in the cinema! 5 stars
1/24/03 Matthew Smith exhilarating from start to finish 5 stars
1/21/03 Jen Good film....Good acting....except for Richard Gere 4 stars
1/20/03 LessThanColleen Awesome music with wonderful actors to go alone with it 5 stars
1/20/03 Andrew Callaway Great New Orleans jazz soundtrack... a good film, too. 4 stars
1/17/03 Art Great Flick - 5 stars
1/11/03 Suzz Remarkable film; a don't miss if you like musicals 5 stars
1/11/03 Law amazing! 5 stars
1/10/03 M Why couldn't they get REAL singers and dancers 3 stars
1/08/03 Flounder A great musical, but the liberal message leaves something to be desired. 3 stars
1/06/03 Kenmeister Well-acted and well-sung with a high energy cast. 5 stars
12/31/02 Dave Weston A brilliant film interpretation of a classic musical 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Dec-2002 (R)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Jan-2003




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