CHICAGO is the musical version of a famous old stage play about the lives of lady criminals in the vaudeville era of the 1920s. Renee Zellweger plays Roxie Hart, who has killed her lover in a jealous rage and now must go to a forbidding Women’s prison, run by Matron “Mama” Morton (Queen Latifah). Mama takes bribes to work “deals” for the women who want to sing, dance or act when they get out (or sometimes in order to get out!).
At first very shy and reticent, Roxie soon figures out the ropes and learns that the big-lady-on-campus is Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose famous murder case is being handled by the notorious lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Flynn has nationwide popularity for his ability to do a “dog and pony show” to captivate courts and juries.
Roxie finds a way to persuade Flynn to take her case, and her gullible husband, Amos (John C. Reilly), who sings a great tune about feeling like transparent cellophane, finds a way to pay Flynn the $5,000 he demands. Flynn immediately begins spin-doctoring Roxie’s case, painting her to be a chaste, lace-collared, knitting-loving, innocent lady, simply misunderstood.
As the story progresses, Roxie begins learning the system and how to play newspaper and radio audiences like a fiddle. Will it last forever? Or, will someone discover the truth?
CHICAGO brings audiences top stars, plenty of top-notch dancing and singing, interesting locations, intriguing historical glimpses, and colorful sets. Richard Gere is a surprisingly talented singer and dancer and plays a perfect con-artist lawyer. Catherine Zeta-Jones is gorgeous and talented, and Renee Zellweger holds her own, though Zeta-Jones is better.
CHICAGO is a musical long on the showy stuff but short on story. It actually lasts about fifteen minutes too long, also. Once the courtroom story has been resolved, the movie should be over, but it continues to draw out the protagonist’s post-prison activities.
The biggest problem with CHICAGO is its worldview. The movie brings these messages:
· If you’re clever and sexy, you’ve got a great chance to fool the people and go free;
· You should take revenge if someone does you wrong;
· Any story can find a different spin, and the people will believe it;
· Marriage vows are inconsequential;
· It’s all about the show; truth is relative, at best; and
· There are no real consequences for evil.
CHICAGO honestly feels like a campy, 1920s version of the O.J. Simpson trial with all its televised pomp and its high-powered lawyers madly spinning. Like reality, justice does not prevail in the end of CHICAGO.
All in all, this movie has a dark, gritty feel that, with the almost-exotic dance sequences and the weak, anti-redemptive story, is just not worth wading through the muck to see the stars perform.
Please address your comments to:
Bob and Harvey Weinstein
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 & (212) 941-3800
Fax: (212) 941-3846
SUMMARY: CHICAGO is a musical about Roxie Hart, a 1920s vaudeville-era prisoner who must find a way to use the system and get the notorious lawyer Billy Flynn to charm the courts and the entire city on her behalf. With great singing and dancing from a star-studded cast, an otherwise good Broadway remake is fatally hampered by a weak story and a relativistic pagan worldview.
(PaPa, PC, Fe, LL, VV, S, N, A, D, MM) Strong pagan, relativistic worldview with message that life is all about appearances, or "the show," with all forms of evil and crime acceptable if one can get away with it with secondary theme that portrays almost all the women as scantily-clad, tough, rough, selfish, jealous, murderous, double-crossing, lying, cheating criminals; about 16 mostly mild obscenities and eight profanities; violence portrayed, but mostly through dance sequences; no overt sex or nudity, but dancers dressed as scantily-clad hookers throughout the movie; heavy alcohol and tobacco use; and, murder, lying, stealing, cheating, bribery, betrayal, rage, disrespect for authority, lawlessness, exploitation, selfishness, and greed.
GENRE: Musical Drama