Fred's No Clue Movie Review: "Chicago"

Directed by Rob Marshall


I’m always a little nervous when I go to see a musical.  Not sure if you’re going to get something good, like My Fair Lady, or something bad, like Grease 2.  Let me assure you, that this is something very good. 


Rob Marshall, who I think is primarily a stage director, delivers an entertaining film that is mostly a stage play.  He uses the mind of Roxie Hart, played by Renee Zellweger, to do most of the musical numbers in a cabaret setting.  It’s a fantastic way of creating a barrier between the fantasy type sequences that these songs act out and the more realistic settings.  So often, people’s chief complaint about musicals is that it’s not realistic in a movie for people to break out into song and dance numbers.  Most of the time for me it feels a bit forced, unless like Evita, the entire movie is musical.  I heard that Marshall filmed this movie very quickly.  You wouldn’t know it.  It’s got a great selection of camera angles and the cinematography is well done. 


The performances are what surprised me the most.  I had heard that Madonna and Goldie Hawn had been once attached to this movie.  I think Madonna would have done a fantastic job with the role of Velma Kelly.  She would’ve looked and sounded great.  My guess is that she just is a little older now, than what they were looking for in this movie.  Instead, in the role of murderess Velma is Catherine Zeta-Jones.  My initial feeling is she is a great looking actress, but can she sing?  Boy, can she ever and just oozes sexuality in the cabaret scenes.  As does the prison matron Mama, played by the ooh so sexy in this movie, Queen Latifah.  Renee Zellweger also is a fantastic singer and it would be great to see if she would have any interest in doing more musicals in film or on Broadway.  She’s a real gem in this flick.  In fact, everyone is great.  The rest of the cast includes, John C. Reilly as the ever diligent Mr. Hart, Richard Gere as lawyer extraordinaire Billy Flynn and some sexy female prisoners including Mya and Lucy Lui.  Without these fantastic performers, this movie would have been dead in the water.


I’d never seen the stage musical version of Chicago.  It surprised me that I was familiar with a good portion of the music, including “All That Jazz” and “Mr. Cellophane Man”.  It must be just ingrained in me from studying in junior high and high school music.  The music throughout this film is top notch.  I may have to run out and buy the soundtrack to this movie.


The basic plot of the film concerns two murdering women.  Roxie who murders her lover when she finds out he lied to her, (Her lover is played by Dominic West, who I recognized from the fantastic HBO series, “The Wire”.) and Velma Kelly who murders her sister and husband when she finds out that they’re sleeping together.  The movie then revolves around the pair duking it out for publicity and trying to gain star status. 


So if you want to experience musical theater and can’t afford Broadway, go to the movies and see Chicago.  You won’t be disappointed.   

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come back soon, until then, I’ll be at the movies