Monday, April 21, 2014

Best Picture: "Chicago," 2002

Movie Stats:
Released 2002 (USA)
American, German & Canadian, in English (some non-translated Hungarian)
Director – Rob Marshall
Stars – Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah

Plot Summary:
When aspiring jazz singer/dancer Roxie Hart (Zellweger) murders her two-timing, dishonest lover Fred Casely (Dominic West), she’s forced to hire attorney and flim-flam man Billy Flynn (Gere) in order to beat the rap. Zeta-Jones co-stars as fellow murderess and jazz singer/dancer Velma Kelly and Latifah as the jailhouse matron Mama Morton.

Blue language; loads of sexual innuendo & implied sexy times; mild violence.

Bad Stuff:
The message of this film is questionable. I thought about this a lot in the days prior to watching it again (I actually own a copy). “Should I like this film as much as I do?” I wondered. “It makes light of murdering men.” I realized, however, that the message isn’t “all men deserve it when they get murdered.” The intent is to poke fun at the spectacle that the media makes of murder, especially when there’s an attractive lady involved. In fact, it references some particular murders that occurred during jazz-age Chicago. Even so, if this musical were about a bunch of men murdering the women in their lives, I doubt we’d all find it quite so fun/entertaining.

I try not to pick on actresses for their weight, but Zellweger’s thinness in this movie disturbs me to the point of distraction. Watching her here makes me very uncomfortable. She makes Zeta-Jones look huge in comparison and Zeta-Jones isn’t a large woman.

Good Stuff:
This is the only movie musical I own the soundtrack to. I love nearly all the songs. My particular favorites are “When You’re Good to Mama,” “Roxie,” “Mister Cellophane,” and “Razzle Dazzle.” I also think the dance sequences are very well choreographed. I especially love the subtle dance number that John C. Reilly (as Roxie’s sad-sack husband Amos) does during “Mister Cellophane.”

All the performances are great as well. As far as singing goes, I especially enjoy Zeta-Jones and Latifah. Both have really lovely voices. As for acting, I love Reilly and Gere. Reilly in particular gets me every time. Poor, simple Amos.

The costumes are to die for.

The Verdict:
In case you can’t tell, I love this movie. I think it’s a lot of fun. The song and dance routines are great. I want to own every single costume. I really enjoy the way it satirizes not only American media but also the justice system. [SPOILER] Basically, it says that if you have enough money, you can get off any charge. The only innocent person in the film is executed because she can’t afford a good defense. [SPOILER] Also, the casting was perfect. I have a hard time imagining anyone else in these roles. It’s sexy and funny and smart. I really don’t know why you haven’t watched it already.

I give the movie 4.25 stars.


Patricia said...

I love this too! I remember gasping in whatever number Zellweger walks up in the air while the male dancers catch her feet. And when I saw this the three gay guys behind me laughed heartily at the part in the credits where we are reassured that everyone did their own singing and dancing etc.

As I opened your review, I was singing "When you're good to mama." The soundtrack is fabulous. Overall, a stunner of a musical, and an anomaly, because we are far, far past the golden age of musicals.

balyien said...

That's "Roxie" where she walks on the guys' upheld hands. :)

Yes, this is a huge anomaly, the first musical to win (or even perhaps to be nominated?) since the 1960s, the "golden age" when four of them won!

I still can't believe "Singing in the Rain" wasn't even nominated when everyone knows it's the best musical ever made, haha.