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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 MP Bartley

"It could have been set anywhere really..."
3 stars

'Moulin Rouge' blasted musicals back into the public consciousness with glitter, pzazz, panache and 100 mile an hour editing to everyone's delight or horror, depending on your point of view. It was only a matter of time therefore the next musical would come along. So Rob Marshall's 'Chicago' is first out of the blocks and it's both surprising and unsurprising. Unsurprising that it's an established musical with the songs already well known. But surprising that so little is done with the possibility of film, leaving it feeling like hardly more than a night out to Broadway.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is Velma Kelly, one half of a famed sister act renowed for their sensual jazz performances on stage. Velma however, becomes the only half left after catching her sister in bed with her husband and rewarding them both with a bellyful of lead.

Roxie (Renee Zellweger) is an ambitious wannabe screwing around behind her husbands back (John C Reilly) in order to get an act. After it becomes clear she'd being strung along, she also plugs her lover, ending up in the same jail as Velma and under the watchful eye of Mama (Queen Latifah).

Both desperate for freedom and as many celebrity inches they can manage in the gossip columns, the imprisoned twosome both compete for the services of celebrity lawyer Billy Flynn, (Richard Gere).
Agreeing to take on both of their cases, but favouring Roxie over Velma, so begins a merry-go-round of fame, infamy, celebrity and popularity as both suffer the highs and lows of being in the public eye.


Musicals essentially live and die by the music, and 'Chicago' is on a winner here. There's no post-modern reinvention here, just the old favourites reproduced for film. Marshall knows better than to tinker with established highlights and so lets the songs lead the film, rather then let his direction take control.

However, it's worth wondering what would have happened had he taken less of a timid approach. He seems too scared to approach the song and dance with anything like flair and just takes them as they are on stage, and gives them a bigger audience. Almost every song is actually performed on a stage.

Yes, the songs are great from 'All That Jazz' to the 'Cell Block Tango' but why the insistence on keeping them on a stage? Why not fully exploit the possibilities of a musical on film and branch them out? There's rarely an integration of reality and fiction, or a blurring of the boundaries. Occasionally it does, like the media misleading 'We Both Reached For The Gun', which sees Gere as a puppet-master controlling the journalists by strings from above.

Most of the time however Marshall seems content simply to place the camera at the front of stage and capture the choreography as it's always been. Good, yes, thrilling, no.

It's even more of waste when some of the cast are so good. Both Zeta-Jones and Zellweger have a fine pair of lungs (steady boys) and are great in their parts. Zellweger comes off best making Roxie part diva, part victim, part star-struck little girl. Zeta-Jones can certainly sing, but doesn't make Velma as alluring as she should be. But that sums up the films problem. For a satirical look at fame, it's nowhere near alluring enough. It's draped in murky and sleazy reds and purples, when it should shine. Even when it's supposed to be sleazy, it's just not sexy, dark or funny enough. Again, the timid direction from Marshall lets it down, with not enough being invested in the characters. For two characters who apparently loath each other, there's little friction between Velma or Roxie either.

The only character to win sympathy is Reilly as Mr. Hart. From his bumbling Oliver Hardy look, to the touching performance of 'Mr. Cellophane', Reilly quietly steals the film from under the noses of everyone else in one of his trademark loser roles.

But I did say some of the cast are good. Which brings us to Gere. Now Gere is fine capturing the rougish twinkle of Flynn. But unfortunately a lot of singing is needed here, and Gere is frankly painful. He just has a bad voice, and from when he's stripping down to his underpants in his first number, he just never looks wholly comfortable.

So did I enjoy 'Chicago'. Yes, and I'd advise anyone else to give it a try. But it plays like a safe, by-the-numbers, attempt at pleasing those who had a heart attack during 'Moulin Rouge'. Although 'Chicago' isn't suited to that type of approach, it's still a shame that when it could be belting it's heart out, it's singing shyly to itself. The cast give it their all so why couldn't Rob Marshall?

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6494&reviewer=293
originally posted: 01/30/03 14:53:10
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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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