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 10/01/2018 | Secre
Member since : 23/04/2003
Reviews : 572
Members who trust : 240
About me :
Journalling more for myself than anything else now, so I don't expect reads or rates!
Pro Excellent film
Cons None
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"One of My Favourite Musicals"

Puppet master

Puppet master

Chicago is one of my favourite films and it was therefore the film I pinged to after the disaster of The Belko Experiment. It’s an oldie but it’s a goodie and it’s a film that will never grow too old for me. As far as musicals go, this one is up there with the best of them and the gritty topic matter placed alongside with the cheery atmosphere of a musical works surprisingly well. I have never actually seen the musical performed live but it is on my ‘must see’ list if it comes to Birmingham or Stoke!

Give 'em the old hocus pocus
Bead and feather 'em
How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

Roxie Hart wants to be a pop star, and to this end she is having an affair with a bloke called Fred Casely who says he has connections and can get her to the top. Needless to say, he’s lying through his teeth and it all gets very mucky, very quickly. By mucky I mean that Roxie is now on trial for murder and as this is Chicago not London, there is the distinct possibility of the death penalty. The narrative follows the tales of several of the high profile women killers on her block and the process through the justice system.

Give 'em the old three ring circus
Stun and stagger 'em
When you're in trouble, go into your dance

This is an undoubtedly dark show and it has made for a dark film, however the creators have managed to insert a reasonable amount of humour into it at points meaning that it isn’t completely bleak and depressing. In fact, a fair amount of the humour comes from playing different characters off against each other, for example Roxie and Velma Kelly who are both fighting for media portrayal and the best lawyer’s attention. In fact, it doesn’t surprise me overly that this is described as a musical crime comedy-drama, which admittedly suggests that the critics couldn’t fit it into a box, but shows how important the humour is.

One foot in the door, one foot in the grave
One stepped on the floor, two stepped out the way
Two glares up at one, whatcha wanna say?
One stares back at two, two is unafraid

The tensions are excellently built throughout the entire narrative and part of the reason for this is the characters themselves; very few of the characters are actually fully – or even partially! – likable and yet somehow you find yourself rooting for them to win. What’s slightly disturbing is when you realise that you’ve been rooting for a jealous murdering bitch for the last hour… or a childish cry baby. But even recognising that, the film does an absolutely superb job at drawing you into the lives of these characters.

Give 'em the old flim flam flummox
Fool and fracture 'em
How can they hear the truth above the roar?

For instance, Renée Zellweger plays Roxie Hart and there is absolutely no doubt that she is spoiled, self-centred and utterly obnoxious. Admittedly, the bloke she killed was fairly obnoxious too, but still, he probably deserved a right good kicking rather than a bullet. She is not a character you should get on with at all; she lies, she manipulates and she has absolutely no shame about any of it. If I knew her in real life I certainly wouldn’t offer to light her cigarette, but somehow within the confines of the film, you find yourself rooting for her.

That's why you got me, leap, shuffle ball, step
We gone play leap frog. Paradiddle. Rep
Paradiddle. Rep. Single then both step

The same is true of Velma Kelly, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Matron “Mama” Morton played by Queen Latifah and for that matter Billy Flynn, the smooth talking lawyer played by Richard Gere. All of them are pretty darn slick characters; all of them act based on their own motives, whether that is for fame, power or wealth. None of them really care about anyone else but themselves and yet instead of making up a cast of obnoxiously detested characters, somehow you warm to them.

He had it coming
He had it coming
He only had himself to blame

There is also a direct commentary on the justice system within the film; it’s not rammed down your throat but the ease with which injustice is propelled speaks for itself. Out of all of the women in the cell block, only one is actually portrayed as innocent of the crime she is accused of committing, however because she cannot speak English she is on her last appeal. Every other woman there admits to their crime in a musical number and yet they seem to have a reasonable chance of escaping a guilty verdict. The use of manipulation and ploys is also common, and the way in which people are presented in the court room is definitely poked fun at.

If you'd have been there
If you'd have seen it
I betcha you would have done the same!

But the music is what I truly adore in this film and I fell in love with it the first time I watched this; somehow, they have managed to fit catchy upbeat songs with what could be quite a depressing tone and it works magically. A lot of the songs are takes on well known dances such as Cell Block Tango which has all of the individual women explaining how they landed up in the cells and A Tap Dance which has Billy Flynn tap dancing his way through the court proceedings, working his way to the finale. It’s cleverly done, and many of the numbers never fail to make me smile.

Cellophane, Mister Cellophane
Should have been my name, Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me and never know I'm there

The quality of the music is generally very high and there are a wide range of different vocal styles within the film including cabaret, jazz, blues and acapella amongst several others. Different actors have very different styles and vocal tones and these have been worked into the characters very well so even the style that they sing matches the personality of the character. Amos Hart, played by John C. Reilly for instance doesn’t have many solo pieces, but he comes across as a naïve, well meaning but rather slow man and the few pieces that he has reflect this. In contrast, Matron “Mama” Morton has an almost gangster sound and Velma is high flying cabaret through and through.

Do I Recommend?

Though you are stiffer than a girder
They'll let you get away with murder
I most certainly do. Released in 2002, this isn’t a new film by quite a long way but it has all the makings of an absolute classic and I absolutely adore it. Everything fits together perfectly, making an exceptional experience.

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Comments on this review

  • Soho_Black published 12/01/2018
    I had never seen Chicago before the film, either, but it's also become one of my favourites as well.
  • 1st2thebar published 12/01/2018
    Exemplary. Also one of my favourite musicals.
  • mumsymary published 12/01/2018
    E xx
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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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