Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition


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Rating: PG-13

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
Lucy Liu as Kitty Baxter
Taye Diggs as The Bandleader
Colm Feore as District Attorney Martin Harrison
Christine Baranski as Mary Sunshine
Dominic West as Fred Casely
Mya as Mona
Deirdre Goodwin as June
Ekaterina Chtchelkanova as Katalin Helinszki
Denise Faye as Annie
Susan Misner as Liz

Special Features:
Feature Commentary By Director Rob Marshall And Screenwriter Bill Condon

Deleted Musical Number “Class,” With Optional Commentary By Director Rob Marshall And Screenwriter Bill Condon

Exclusive New Bonus Material — “From Stage To Screen: The History Of Chicago”

Extended Musical Performances

Chita Rivera’s Encore

An Intimate Look At Director Rob Marshall

When Liza Minelli Became Roxie Hart

Academy Award® Winning Production Designer John Myhre

Academy Award® Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood

VH1 “Behind The Movie: Chicago”

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French and Spanish Languages
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 113 Minutes

This movie is based on the play and musical of the same name.

In the 1920’s, Roxie Hart dreams of becoming a star like her idol, Velma Kelly. The fact that Velma is arrested for killing her sister and lover doesn’t faze Roxie a bit. It makes her all the more willing to do anything to win fame and fortune. She’s even willing to cheat on her goodhearted, though dim, husband Amos Hart in order to be a celebrity.

When her lover turns out to be an abusive liar who can’t help her get a stage audition, Roxie shoots him in a fit of rage. She’s taken to jail and expected to hang for killing the man. Roxie’s fantasies of stardom continue, though, as she encounters Velma in jail and hires the famous Billy Flynn as her attorney. Through a fog of daydreams about being on stage, Roxie makes her way through harsh reality.

It turns out being thrown in jail and put on trial for murder is just what she needs to become a media starlet. Through manipulation of the press and public opinion, Roxie becomes a real sensation without ever showing any talent. But can she hold on to her dream?

Chicago is rated PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements.

The Movie:
I missed Chicago when it first hit theaters. The first time I ever saw it was on an airplane on the way to Prague to visit the set of Hellboy. The screen was tiny, the headphones marginally operational, and the person in front of me had their seat leaned all the way back. In short, it wasn’t the best way to see the film. So when I saw it on the home theater system in the comfort of my own living room, I found it a much more enjoyable experience. While I wasn’t terribly impressed with the film the first time around, I thought it was better on my second viewing. I guess I had to overcome the hurdle of the massive media hype before I could see the movie for what it really was. While I don’t think Chicago was as great as the hype and 6 Oscar wins would lead you to believe, I still thought it was a decent film worth checking out. I’m not a big fan of musicals or Broadway plays, but Chicago was entertaining to me.

The acting in the film is great. While all the characters are played in over-the-top theatrical style, the entire cast steps up to the plate to show off talents that you never knew they possessed. Zellweger, Jones and Gere all do their own singing and dancing and they are superb. They all have strong voices and can really belt out the tunes. Richard Gere even does a full tap dance number that is impressive. They are all perfectly cast and they will make you believe that they are the characters by the end.

The music in the film is excellent. I liked the songs better when I heard them the second time around. One of the more memorable songs is “When You’re Good to Mama,” a funny song filled with sexual innuendo sung by Queen Latifah. Everybody already knew Latifah could sing, but she ends up fitting perfectly into the Broadway role in this lighthearted song. “Cell Block Tango” is a sexy number led by Catherine Zeta-Jones. The tune will stick in your head long after viewing the movie and the choreography in the musical number is pretty hot stuff. “I Can’t Do It Alone” features Jones again showing off her talent at singing, dancing and being funny. Other songs in the film range in quality and toe-tapability, but they are all good. You may want to pick up the soundtrack for this movie.

This story is a satire, so the plot is a lot of fun. Fame, manipulation of the media and changing public opinion are all fodder for the storyline. Richard Gere’s manipulation of the judge and jury at the trial is masterful and his tap dance around the truth makes it one of the more memorable scenes in the movie. The whole thing is reminiscent of the O.J. Simpson trial. It’s all about public opinion and how you spin things, not if you’re innocent or guilty. Fleeting celebrity is also a big theme in the film as Roxie gets her 15 minutes of fame. Time and again you see celebrities come and go, and that’s exactly what happens to Velma and Roxie.

My only problem with the movie is that there are no likable characters. They’re all basically despicable people (except for Amos). Roxie is selfish, vain, dumb, a murderer, and an adulteress. Velma is cut from the same cloth. Billy is a lawyer (nuff said). In short, there’s no good guy to root for. As Roxie and Velma have their slam bang exciting closing number to cheers and applause, I can’t help but think of all the horrible things they’ve done. Of course, that’s the point of the movie, but deep down I like to see the good guys win in the end. These aren’t the good guys.

I never saw the original play or musical, so I can’t comment on how the movie compares to it. However, I think turning the song and dance numbers into fantasies of Roxie’s was a brilliant move. It made everything fit together much nicer and it fit the mood of her desire for stardom. It appears the liberties Rob Marshall took with the play have really enhanced the story.

The Extras:
The Commentary by director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon and the Deleted musical number “Class” were both on the first edition of Chicago. Here’s the new stuff from the “Razzle-Dazzle Edition”:

“From Stage To Screen: The History Of Chicago” – This is a documentary on the play Chicago and its long road to the big screen. They talk about how the play was developed, its initial lukewarm reception, and more. They interview many of the original cast members including Chita Rivera and the recently deceased Jerry Orbach. There are a lot of still photos, but they also managed to dig up a few original performances of some of the musical numbers by cast members on morning talk shows. They are certainly rare finds. Whether you’re a Broadway aficionado or not, this is an interesting look at the history of the play.

Extended Musical Performances – The title of this is a little misleading. It looks like there might be more footage from the musical numbers. That isn’t the case. Instead it’s the musical numbers replayed with footage from various angles, rehearsal footage, and more. You really begin to appreciate all the hard work and months of preparation that went into the routines. There are also side featurettes here highlighting Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta Jones and Renee Zellweger. If you enjoyed the musical routines, you’ll love this.

Chita Rivera’s Encore – The original Roxie Hart from the stage is featured in this short video. They discuss her cameo in the film and her days on stage.

An Intimate Look At Director Rob Marshall – This video highlights the director and his unlikely transition from directing stage plays to feature films. This odd career path is interesting, but the rest of the video mainly features cast and crew singing the director’s praises. That’s cool for a while, but it does become redundant.

When Liza Minelli Became Roxie Hart – When one of the cast members from the stage play got sick (she sucked a feather into her lungs and it got infected – believe it or not), Liza Minelli stepped in at the last minute and helped the play out. Her unannounced cameo gave the struggling play a huge jumpstart and paved the way for it to make history. None of it is shown here, but a segment of Minelli and Rivera (in a surprise appearance) singing a duet on the Dinah Shore show is shown here. It’s some rare footage that’s interesting to see.

Academy Award® Winning Production Designer John Myhre – This featurette highlights the elaborate sets from the movie.

Academy Award® Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood – As you would expect, this featurette highlights the costumes from the film.

VH1 “Behind The Movie: Chicago” – This is a 45 minute “making of” video featuring your standard interviews with cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and more.

The Bottom Line:
This Razzle Dazzle Edition is the definitive version of Chicago on DVD. If you loved the movie, you’ll want to shell out more money for this (however reluctantly). A healthy emphasis on the stage play makes it quite interesting.

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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