Chicago (DVD)

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Chicago (DVD)

This Hollywood adaptation of the classic Broadway musical sparkles with glamour and reverberates with the energy of good, old-fashioned song and dance...

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Review of "Chicago (DVD)"

published 23/02/2003 | e_rees3
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 23
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About me :
Pro Great songs, strong performances
Cons Richard Gere's voice
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"A swinging good movie"

I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of musicals. No, I love musicals! So I’ve been rather excited about seeing Chicago, the film version of the stage musical. I first saw it with my boyfriend; ladies, do not go and see this film with a fella! He thought it was ‘all right’, while I loved it! In fairness to him he did have to put up with me pretending to be Catherine Zeta-Jones in the car on the way home, but that’s no excuse. I saw it again last week with some female friends which was much better – we were all doing Velma & Roxie impressions by the end of the night.

**The Story**
Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a wannabe (rather like those saddo’s in Pop Idol/Stars etc etc). She dreams of being a star like her idol Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a singer on the Chicago stage. Instead she is trapped in a boring marriage to the reliable, but extremely dull Amos (John C Reilly). She embarks on an affair with a furniture salesman called Fred, but she shoots him after finding out he has lied to her about having connections in the world of showbiz. Roxie then finds herself in jail, alongside Velma Kelly, who is awaiting trial for murdering her husband and sister after catching them in the sack. The jail is run by Matron ‘Mama’ Morton (Queen Latifah), she treats the prisoners well, as long as they pay up! Velma’s lawyer is Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), he has never lost a case and ends up agreeing to represent Roxie. He then sets about portraying her as a reformed sinner, and using any means possible to get her name in the papers. A battle for the tabloid attention between Velma & Roxie and the farce that is Roxie’s trial result in, well I won’t give away the ending other than to say it is a little far-fetched. But hey, this is Chicago!!

**The Cast**
I must admit I was a little sceptical when I heard that Richard Gere, Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones had landed the lead roles, having not heard any of them sing, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Renee Zellweger (Roxie)
I like Renee Zellweger, but I find her a bit annoying at times in this film, especially when she does her ‘little girl lost’ act. Her voice is a bit too twee and sugary at times. Saying that, she has a fairly good voice and is perfectly believable. But someone give this girl a good square meal! Her over-toned, skinny physique looks completely out of place next to Zeta-Jones’ curves.

Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma)
Hmm, to hyphen or not to hyphen? She seems to have acquired it since she went to Hollywood! I’ve never been a fan particularly, I always thought she was more beauty than brains, but seeing her in this film has forced me to change my opinion of her. She is feisty, aloof and cool as Velma, and she can certainly sing. Her voice is perfectly suited to the part, it’s rich and deep and when needed, powerful. Her dancing is also impressive, especially in the numbers ‘Cell Block Tango’ and ‘I Can’t do it Alone’. My one problem is with her accent – there are parts when her American accent slips a bit, I find this quite strange as she now sounds more American than Welsh!

Richard Gere (Billy)
My Mum loves Richard Gere, I’ve never seen the attraction myself! He is good as Billy; he doesn’t have the best singing voice, but makes up for it by oozing charm. He’s also a rather good tap dancer surprisingly!

Queen Latifah (Mama)
My one impression of Queen Latifah is her cleavage! She has the most impressive chest you’re likely to see, and it’s on display in all her scenes! I’d only ever knew her as a rap artist before, so it was good to see her actually singing, she has a strong voice, which is well suited to a bucth, tough prison governor.

John C Reilly (Amos)
This is a very small role, as Roxie’s dimwit, but loveable husband. I’ve only seen John C Reilly in Boogie Nights as a porn star, so this was slightly different!

**The Songs**
The most well-known song from the musical is probably the opening number ‘All That Jazz’. It is sung by Velma on stage in a Chicago jazz club, and sets the scene well. Catherine Zeta-Jones sings it very well, and the choreography is also good, (although some of it looks very painful!)

‘Funny Honey’ starts off as a love song about Amos sung by Roxie. It ends with her shouting abuse at him as he lets her take the rap for murdering her lover.

Queen Latifah’s opening number is ‘When You’re Good to Mama’, she has a powerful voice and is suitably brash and sassy.

I was disappointed with ‘Cell Block Tango’, on the stage it is extremely effective, and the dancing leaves you breathless. However, on the big screen exactly the same set-up is used, which is nowhere near as effective. That said, the dancing is excellent and the song (sung by the women on murderer’s row about why they killed their men) will have you singing along.

The first taster of Richard Gere’s singing is in ‘All I Care About’, a rather bizarre number, where he ends up in his vest and underpants. Wonder how much they had to pay him for that?? His voice is all right, but in parts you can hear how limited it is.

‘We Both Reached for the Gun’ is my favourite part of the film. Set at Roxie’s first press conference, it features Richard Gere as a ventriloquist, with Roxie as his dummy, and the reporters as puppets. It is very cleverly done and Richard Gere is excellent.

‘Roxie’ is sung, funnily enough, by Roxie as she dreams of being a star. She is on a black stage surrounded by male dancers, dressed in a shimmery silver number. It is quite effective and well sung by Renee Zellweger.

Velma’s desperation to get back in the limelight is summed up in ‘I Can’t do it Alone’. Catherine Zeta-Jones dancing here is fantastic and her singing isn’t bad too!

‘Mister Cellophane’ is sung by Amos as he ponders what it’s like to be ignored. He is dressed as a lonely clown on an empty stage, aw bless!

‘Razzle Dazzle’ is set in the court room as Roxie’s trial begins, it is visually very dazzling, but the song is not that strong.

‘Class’ is sung by Mama and Velma, about the decline in manners and etiquette. I thought this song was out of place in the stage version, and it’s no better here.

The closing number is ‘Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag’, sung by Roxie and Velma and is a good ending, with some great dancing.

**My Thoughts**

I have read reviews which complain of the ‘cartoon’ view of Chicago – well of course it is, this is a musical. (In the same way that children dressed in curtains dancing round a fountain was not an accurate represent of Nazi-occupied Austria!). Chicago is presented as a city that never sleeps, where women strut their stuff in their underwear and everyone wants to be famous. If you want to know about the real Chicago, watch a documentary!

I thought the film was great, my only real quibble would be the energy that is lost transferring it from stage to screen, but I guess that was inevitable.

I would recommend going to see this film, it’s pure escapism and will have you humming the songs for ages!

Thanks for reading J

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Comments on this review

  • Critchyboy published 24/02/2003
    Much preferred the stage musical to the film - more engorssing. Hopefully it will encourage people to get into the theatres to see it! Thanks C :)
  • quizzeyq published 24/02/2003
    I havent seen the musical to this but would like to, the film sounds good too. Good op. x
  • Coxecal published 24/02/2003
    a really great op... i remember when i heard that they were making chicago into a movie... i was so damn skeptical because they weren't going to put bebe neuwirth in... (i am so sorry if i spelled that wrong)... anyways... so i kind of tried to pretend that i wasn't interested in it... though i was... i haven't seen it yet... but i aim to... though.. like you said... it won't be with my boyfriend... most likely with a bunch of girls from around the block... take care... 'peaches n beans'
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Product Information : Chicago (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

This Hollywood adaptation of the classic Broadway musical sparkles with glamour and reverberates with the energy of good, old-fashioned song and dance. As the film leaps into its first riveting act, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), one half of the famous number she performs with her sister, arrives at the night club late, dishevelled, and with blood on her hands. Nonetheless, she goes onstage unhindered and wows the crowd with her shimmying rendition of 'All That Jazz'. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) a young blonde who dreams of someday being famous like Velma, watches from the audience with eyes full of envy. Later, as the cops pick up Velma for the murder of her sister, sending her fame to all-time heights as she becomes a tabloid sensation, Roxie also commits a crime of passion--shooting a lover who falsely promised to secure her cabaret debut. The girls wind up together in jail, where Mama Morton (Queen Latifah), a compassionate guard, is their only hope of redemption; and Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the lawyer who can get them out. There, through wonderfully familiar songs like 'Razzle Dazzle', 'Cell-Block Tango', and 'Cellophane Man' Roxie and Velma tell their story of competing for bad-girl celebrity. Director Rob Marshall presents a loveable CHICAGO that shares all the grit and grime of the Bob Fosse Broadway original with phenomenal performances by this grouping of Hollywood stars. The dizzying camerawork and dazzling sets make an easy transition from stage to film.

Release Details

DVD Region: DVD

Release date: 12/09/2005, 04/08/2003

No of Discs: 2, 1

Catalogue No: BUA 0013401, BED 888819

Barcode: 8717418056377, 5017188888196

Voice: Danny Elfman

Choreographer: Bob Fosse

Music: Fred Ebb


Author: Bob Fosse, Fred Ebb

Director of Photography: Dion Beebe

Screenwriter: Bill Condon

Producer: Martin Richards

Composer: Danny Elfman, Fred Ebb


Main Language: English

Professional Reviews

Review: "...Fresh and daring....Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly are the surprise standouts..." (Box Office, p.59, 01/03/2003)<br><br>"...Zeta-Jones, all legs and growls, has found her calling card..." (Film Comment, p.73, 01/01/2003)<br><br>"...It's Zeta-Jones who keeps you watching from start to finish....She refuses to let you go....If musicals are dreams, she is their greatest dreamer..." (Los Angeles Times, p.C8, 27/12/2002)<br><br>"...[The actors] deliver sizzling performances....This tawdry, hard-as-nails carnival of ghouls generates plenty of fireworks..." (Movieline, p.62, 01/02/2003)<br><br>"...It's the raw expenditure of energy and the canniness of the staging that should pull audiences in and keep them rooted..." (New York Times, p.E1, 27/12/2002)<br><br>"...Zellweger wins our hearts. That's what makes her dangerous. Just like the movie....Dynamite..." (Rolling Stone, p.76, 23/01/2003)<br><br>"...[Jones] makes nightclub singer Velma a droll fishnet virtuoso..." (Sight and Sound, p.41-2, 01/02/2003)<br><br>"...CHICAGO shows how much the element of surprise is missing from today's movies....It's part of the basic Zeta-Jones bio that she can really sing, and, wow, can she..." (USA Today, p.7D, 27/12/2002)<br><br>

Technical Information

Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scene, Behind The Scenes Footage

Dubbing Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 English<br>Dolby Digital 2.0 English

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0

Award Information

BAFTA: Best Supporting Actress 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)

OSCAR: Best Actress In A Supporting Role 2002 (Catherine Zeta Jones)


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