Murderesses Velma Kelly (a chanteuse and tease who killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together) and Roxie Hart (who killed her boyfriend when she discovered he wasn't going to make her a star) find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago. Written by
(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon.)
This is a musical in the tradition of musicals that are entertaining and easy to digest, and yet some hours later leave one with some apprehension. Is it really the intent of the story to celebrate getting away with murder? Or is this movie a statement about how murder by women in emotionally trying circumstances can be justified? Or perhaps is this an indictment of the criminal justice system? Or is this just a spicy entertainment? I'll opt for the latter; however I can tell you that women will find this more agreeable than their spouses. There is a kind of historically revisionist feeling to the sentiments expressed. I seriously doubt that this production, in which murder from jealousy is seemingly justified, would have been produced as a musical comedy before the modern era.
But never mind. What makes Bob Fosse's Chicago a hit (and the Academy's Best Picture of 2002) are the beautifully staged and choreographed song and dance numbers, the spiffy direction and neat editing, a lot of leggy flesh along with some fine performances by Queen Latifah, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger.
In particular I liked Queen Latifah's performance. When she comes on singing "When You're Good to Momma" she just about brings the house down. I also liked her portrayal of the savvy and corrupt Boss Lady on Murderess Row. Zeta-Jones got the Oscar for best Supporting Actress, and she was good, but I think Latifah, who was also nominated, was just as impressive if not more so.
Zellweger, looking almost anorectic compared to the last time I saw her in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)--released only the year before--gives a solid performance in a very demanding role, although to be honest, it appeared that she was doing a lot of lipsyncing. Still one is amazed at how good she and Zeta-Jones were at the old song and dance, not having been previous known for being twinkled-toed.
You might want to see this to compare how it stands up to a long line of filmland musicals, such as Oklahoma, South Pacific, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, etc. Chicago certainly is well within the confines of that venerable traditional, although it is my feeling, that despite the Academy's favor, this is just a notch below the best.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?