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Review: "Chicago"

January 15th, 2003

Chicago knows how to flaunt and strut and tap and dazzle. But All That Jazz isn't a form of flattery I'd use to describe the much-hyped musical. In fact, Chicago is a casebook example on how not all Broadway hits can transform into good films. Chicago is fine entertainment, but it lacks the verve and raw energy that made Moulin Rouge so spectacular. That said, if you are one of the people who though Moulin Rouge was too fast and furious, Chicago is probably more up your alley.

The adaptation stars Renee Zellweger as Roxy Hart, a dime-a-dozen dame whose search for fame and fortune as a jazz-hands entertainer in the roaring '20s, Chicago, lands her in prison after her lover fails to deliver the goods on making her into a star (she gives hime to ol' rat-a-tat-tat). There, she meets up with her idol, Velma (Catherine Zeta-Jones, born to sing and dance!), the leggy Queen B of all that is jazz who is also in the deep for murdering her husband and sister. The prison manifests into some breathtaking dance numbers, the most memorable belonging to the warden, Big Mamma, Queen Latifah's character and a shock to the system as the best performance in the movie.

Richard Gere also showcases some serious singing and muscle talents as famed lawyer Billy Flynn, who defends Roxy and catapults her into a news media frenzy.

What really makes Chicago so darn fun is its witty screenplay (written by director Bill Condon from the original Maurine Dallas Watkins play and Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb music). The film is clever, funny, and knows it, pulling the rug from under the audience's feet from start to finish. The music is good, though you could say that Chicago, the movie, is more a series of stunning set pieces then an actual film, a reason why it has its detractors to be sure.

Matthew Dalton