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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 21.49%
Just Average: 7.02%
Pretty Crappy: 3.72%
Sucks: 17.77%

10 reviews, 182 user ratings

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by David Cornelius

"A giddy explosion of song, dance, and all that jazz."
5 stars

“Chicago” is the great modern musical “Moulin Rouge” wanted to be. Like that film, “Chicago” is lively, brisk, highly stylized, and full of post-MTV editing techniques. Unlike that film, “Chicago” is relatively pretension-free. “Moulin” was a miserable failure from start to finish; “Chicago” is rousing success.

For the folks who made “Chicago” - both the Broadway musical and its film adaptation - understand fully (where Baz Luhrmann did not) what makes a great musical. We need terrific music, compelling characters, terrific music, knockout choreography, terrific music, fine acting, and terrific music. Did I mention the terrific music? The songs (music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb, for those keeping score) are some of the freshest, coolest, and toe-tappingest to come out of Broadway in ages, even if they were written twenty-five years ago.

“Chicago” the movie is actually an improvement over “Chicago” the musical, as it keeps the great music and Bob Fosse-inspired imagery, but it adds a more structured storyline. (Broadway purists have disagreed, and for fairness I’ll add that I’m definitely no expert on the play. Diehard “Chicago” fans may find quibbles I never noticed.)

The screenplay, from Bill Condon (“Gods and Monsters”), fleshes out the bare bones plot of the source material: In the Windy City of the Roaring Twenties, stage siren Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has just murdered her husband and her sister, becoming a media darling. Meanwhile, aspiring singer Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) has also recently committed murder. She’s offed her lover, leaving her husband (John C. Reilly) in the lurch. So it’s off to prison for Roxie, but she’s lucky enough to land the legal aid of Chicago’s top attorney, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Flynn’s publicity gymnastics help make Roxie’s case the Trial of the Century - much to the consternation of fading star Velma.

The story, as it stands, is crisp and engaging. The dialogue is slick, the satire biting, the humor fresh, the drama compelling. But the story is not why we watch “Chicago.” It’s the music. The song-and-dance numbers here have an overwhelming zest that reminds us why the musical genre was so popular in the first place, and they force us to ask ourselves why the genre ever died out. Director Rob Marshall (making his theatrical feature debut, following his work helming Disney’s made-for-TV remake of “Annie”) pumps the songs full of life, staging them more or less as they’d appear on Broadway: sparse, stylized settings and gorgeous, complex choreography blending with the vocal talents of the stars to create a treat for the senses.

To list all the perfect musical moments would take up way too much time, so let me briefly highlight my favorites. Gere, with a voice surprisingly perfect for the sound of the 1920s, whips us through tales of showmanship (“Press Conference Rag,” “Razzle Dazzle”). In a genius bit of casting, Queen Latifah plays the slick prison warden, Mama Morton, whose key song is great fun. Zellweger and Zeta-Jones both get their share of show-stopping bits, most memorably a final dance number that shines in its stagy brilliance. And “Cell Block Tango,” a larger-than-life tune showcasing the various women inmates, pumps and grinds with a spot-on intensity that actually manages to out-do the title dance number in “Jailhouse Rock.”

But above all, the most memorable part of the film is Reilly as Amos, Roxie’s rube of a husband. His is the only sympathetic character in the bunch, a doormat for the others to use and abuse as they wish. When his feelings of inadequacy and invisibleness finally pour out in the song “Mr. Cellophane,” it’s a moment of true sadness. Reilly’s everyman persona is so important to making the song ache with sorrow that I can’t imagine any other actor in the role.

My only quibble is that Marshall, perhaps afraid that the public is still not ready to dive head-first back into the musical pool, sets all of the songs not in the reality of the movie, but in the dreamy fantasy world of the characters’ minds. At first I thought this was somewhat of a cop-out, but as the film progressed, the device won me over, as it provided the film with a style all its own.

Because Marshall shows such a keen eye for the lost art of the musical, any disagreements over the modernization of things fade away with the next song. This is a film that knows how to keep piling on the fun. It’s a delicious movie experience and, quite plainly, the best movie musical of the past few decades. If Marshall continues to deliver more movies like these in the upcoming years, we can consider ourselves a very lucky audience.

That’s “Chicago.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6494&reviewer=392
originally posted: 02/10/05 16:26:33
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User Comments

8/19/18 Charles Tatum Solid musical, would have loved to see what Fosse could have done with it 4 stars
3/26/18 Suzanne Loved "All that Jazz." Could listen all day. 4 stars
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
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
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
6/06/03 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
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  27-Dec-2002 (R)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005



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