The casting for Rob Marshall's film adaptation of the Broadway musical
CHICAGO might seem a little unusual at first glance, but its three stars,
Ren‚e Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere, put so much palpable
verve into their high energy performances that one would be scared of
wishing them the proverbial, "Break a leg!" lest they do. The supporting
cast members (including John C. Reilly, Queen Latifah, Christine Baranski,
Taye Diggs and Colm Feore) work just as hard and are just as impressive as
Zellweger and Zeta-Jones play two "killer dillers and scintillating sinners"
-- the script is so much fun -- who are both on death row for crimes of
passion. Richard Gere, radiating charisma like heat from a roaring fire,
plays Billy Flynn, the women's lawyers. He's a supremely confident
attorney, who has never lost a case for his exclusively female clientele.
Although he sings "All I Care About Is Love," actually all that motivates
him is his five thousand dollar fee and the limelight of grandstanding for
the press. How good is he? If Jesus had come to him, with five thousand
dollars of course, "Things would have turned out differently," he brags.
Although you might expect Zeta-Jones to have the headline role, Zellweger
plays the central character, the slightly dim-witted Roxie Hart, a peroxide
blonde with looks that rival that of Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones), the
dark-haired beauty who occupies a nearby cell. Before their incarceration,
Velma was a star, and Roxie was just a "2-bit talent" with big dreams. Once
behind iron bars, however, Roxie begins to eclipse Velma, who hates being
The beauty of the song and dance numbers aren't because of the songs
themselves, but the clever way that they are integrated into the story. To
illustrate Billy's ingenious legal footwork, he has a tap dance routine
during a sticky moment at the big trial. Another of his apropos numbers is
"Razzle-Dazzle." Trial lawyers should adore this picture.
I enjoyed every moment of this stunningly filmed production -- and yet. The
only thing that nagged at my mind was a simple musing. What would Baz
Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE) have done? I'd love to see him take a crack at
CHICAGO someday. Marshall's and Luhrmann's versions could then someday make
a great double feature.
CHICAGO runs 1:53. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual content and dialogue,
violence and thematic elements" and would be acceptable for kids around 12
My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it ** 1/2. He liked the movie, especially the
dancing and the costumes, but thought it dragged some and was a little too
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes