out of 4
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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4
There's more razzle-dazzle in "Chicago" than I've seen in years. Directed by Rob
Marshall and adapted by screenwriter Bob Condon from the hit Broadway show by
John Kander/Fred Ebb/Bob Fosse, this hip musical sparkles and sizzles, opening
with sultry Catherine Zeta-Jones strutting "All That Jazz." Can she sing? You
bet. So can Renee Zellweger and Richard Gere. Set in the 1929 moral meltdown of
the Windy City, this cynical story revolves around two murderesses, Velma Kelly
(Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger), in Cook County jail awaiting trial.
Velma's a big vaudeville star while Roxie's a goofy, dreamy, ambitious wannabe.
They loathe each other as they compete for the attention of their slick, shrewd
lawyer, Billy Flynn (Gere). As Roxie's hapless husband (John C. Reilly) hovers
in the background, their rivalry is encouraged by the conniving prison matron
(Queen Latifah). But what was straightforward on the stage becomes a surreal
kaleidoscope of reality and fantasy as Roxie's imagination blends the sleazy
spotlight of notoriety with celebrity - not unlike contemporary headline-hogging
murder trials. By using that innovative device, Rob Marshall is able to
transcend the limits of the stage production, deepen its emotional power and
clarify its intention. There's an ingenious number in which Zellweger sits on
Gere's lap, like a ventriloquist's dummy, while he talks to the press. Then Gere
gingerly tap-dances as he cleverly bamboozles the jury. Even Chita Rivera from
the original cast does a cameo. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Chicago"
is a spectacular, thrilling 10. Not only is it one of the 10 BEST of the year
but the participants should be top contenders for Oscar gold. Rarely has a
Broadway show been transferred to the screen as inventively and successfully.
Copyright © 2002 Susan Granger
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