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 26/02/2003 | iainc
Member since : 17/02/2003
Reviews : 35
Members who trust : 8
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Pro An Excellent Film
Cons Some musical omissions
very helpful
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"My Kind of Town"

Chicago is a glossy, slick musical written by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The show was originally only semi successful and has been revived several times.

Perhaps one of the most interesting things is that no matter when you see it or saw it, the subject always remains topical.

As a fan of musical theatre, I was very very keen to see this film, and to see how well the show translated to the medium. Having now seen it, I think I can say that the answer is "very very well!". In fact, in some ways the film outshines the musical - particularly in the way it clarifies the opening of the show.

For those who are not familiar, the show is about murderesses and the story of Roxie Hart, an aspiring show girl who shoots her lover in a jealous rage. It concerns her imprisonment and the way that she and her lawyer use the legal system and the gullability of the general public to get her off scot free.

On a deeper level the show is about America and the way that popularity and money can outweigh morality and justice in that country. Echos of this story abound in such high profile cases as the O J Simpson murders.

Ultimately for me, it is here that the film fails slightly. The focus is clearly on the story of Roxie Hart, but many of the events in the stage show which bring out the politico-social comment are missing.

Mary Sunshine for example, an agony aunt who is prominent in the stage show and who has her own song, is sidelined in the film and played by a woman - usually this part is played by a man who is revealed as such in the trial to prove that "not everything is always as it seems" and that manipulating the press is easy for a slick lawyer.

However the story is presented excellently with slick Fosse style choreography and fantastic costumes. Catherine Zeta-Jones shows us just how she got where she is today, and returns to her song and dance origins. Vocally she is magnificent, easily rivaling Ute Lemper and Bebe Newith and giving the sort of oomph that previously only Chita Rivera (whom the part was written for) could give. Chita in fact makes a cameo appearence in the film!

Renee Zelwegger performs magnificently although vocally she is not as punchy as Gwen Verdon or Ruthie Henshall. She also seems very very skinny in this show. But she has clearly worked hard and it shows in all of the routines that come from her character's head.

The supporting cast are excellent, although Richard Gere did appear to turn into a cheeky chirpy Dick Van Dyke sort of cockney in his opening number for no apparent reason. I was also a little disappointed that Billy Flynn's trademark belt at the end of Both Reached for The Gun was not present (usually the high note is held on for 15-20 seconds).

Queen Latifa was excellent as Mama Morton and it is worth seeing the film if only to gasp at her glitzy dress which seems to defy all laws of physics. Amos, Roxie's tireless, faithful and ultimately dim husband is also performed well.

Some of the stage show songs are cut (Me and My Babie, When Velma Takes the Stand and Class) but overall this film is terrific entertainment and shows what can be done in a film musical. I think we have finally entered a new period of enlightenment and escaped the "Evita" disease of making a movie musical like a pop video.

Go and see this film if you like a show!

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Comments on this review

  • LIZKEMPO published 05/01/2004
    I love this film, i prefer it to the stage show! LizzieX
  • Critchyboy published 03/03/2003
    The stage show is far superior to this, although the fim is OK, I felt it dragged a little in places. C :)
  • Honey_Bee published 26/02/2003
    A great review. I really enjoyed Chicago and thought Catherine Zeta Jones and Q Latifa were excellent. I thought Rene Z was too thin also. :o) x
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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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