Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly
Richard Gere as Billy Flynn
Queen Latifah as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton
John C. Reilly as Amos Hart
Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine
Taye Diggs as The Band Leader
Dominic West as Fred Casely
Lucy Liu as Go-To-Hell Kitty
Deirdre Goodwin as June
Denise Faye as Annie
Mya as Mona
Susan Misner as Liz
Colm Feore as Martin Harrison
“Chicago” is wonderful eye candy with incredible acting talent, choreography and… all that jazz.
Everyone loves a legend, but in Chicago, there’s only room for one. Velma Kelley (Zeta-Jones) burns in the spotlight as a nightclub sensation. When she shoots her philandering husband, she lands on Chicago’s fames murderess row, retains Chicago’s slickest lawyer, Billy Flynn (Gere), and is the center of the town’s most notorious murder case, only increasing her celebrity. Roxie Hart (Zellweger), seduced the the city’s promise of style and adventure, dreams of singing and dancing her way to stardom. When Roxie’s abusive lover tries to walk out on her, she too ends up in prison. Billy recognizes a made-for-tabloids story, and postpones Velma’s court date to take on Roxie’s case. Infamy is Roxie’s ticket to stardom. Billy turns her crime of passion into celebrity headlines, and in this town, where murder is a form of entertainment, she becomes a bona fide star – much to Velma’s chagrin. As Roxie fashions herself as America’s sweetheart, Velma has more than a few surprises in store, and the two women stop at nothing to outdo each other in their obsessive pursuit of fame and celebrity.
The 1975 Broadway production “Chicago,” directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, is brought to life on the big screen by director Rob Marshall and writer Bill Condon in an incredible-looking and highly entertaining film. The adaptation is filled with spectacular songs and dance numbers that make the 100-minute duration fly by before you know it.
Marshall is himself a choreographer which enabled him to add that extra spark to the dances. During the film, the songs are used to show what the characters are thinking and what they are really wanting to say. The cinematography of the songs and dancing was impressive as well. A lot of the scenes start out normal and develop into songs while the sets are changing, at other times the song takes place somewhere else completely and you are taken back and forth between the song and the scene. It’s something that works quite well and makes the movie feel a lot like the play, which is a good thing here. The performances couldn’t have turned out the way they did, however, without the talent involved.
The story is mostly about Roxie Hart, played by Renée Zellweger, who is willing to do anything to become a star. Zellweger performs her own songs very naturally, but she is topped in the vocal department by Catherine Zeta-Jones. Nevertheless, they both sound great and it was a pleasure hearing their renditions of the “Chicago” songs. Zellweger could very well be expecting an Academy Award nomination for her work in this musical, she did a great job showing Roxie’s need for attention and playing opposite Zeta-Jones and Gere.
Zeta-Jones definitely had the best voice out of the topliners and it was fitting for the already ‘famous’ Velma Kelly. I was also impressed with Richard Gere’s performance who puts on a show to make the jury believe whatever he wants them to. John C. Reilly plays the sympathetic Amos well and Queen Latifah’s ‘Mama’ is definitely one of the more entertaining characters in the film. I didn’t care much for Christine Baranski as reporter Mary Sunshine, but it was nice to see Taye Diggs as the band leader.
The songs I enjoyed the most were Zeta-Jones’ “All That Jazz” and two of Richard Gere’s tracks (both with Zellweger), “We Both Reached For The Gun” and “Razzle Dazzle”. John C. Reilly singing “Mr. Cellophane” was pretty much a low point in the movie – it could have been done differently.
If you love the play, or if you’ve never seen it, this is an outstanding and entertaining adaptation that I would highly recommend seeing in theaters.