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Overall Rating
3.83

Awesome51.05%
Worth A Look: 20.25%
Average: 7.17%
Pretty Bad: 3.8%
Total Crap: 17.72%

10 reviews, 177 user ratings


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Chicago
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Electrifying antidote to 'Moulin Rouge.'"
5 stars

I hated 'Moulin Rouge,' but that doesn't mean I hate musicals; it just means I hate self-consciously chaotic messes. I mention that film only because it may give all future musicals a bad name. Those who share my disdain for 'Moulin Rouge' should try to get over that trauma and submit to the expertly crafted pizzazz of 'Chicago.'

Here, finally, is a movie musical made by people who know what they're doing. In all, it's the most electrifying entry in the genre since Dancer in the Dark, though admittedly a lot more lightweight than that rewarding ordeal.

The material has knocked around for decades, most famously in the Broadway musical of the same name, which opened in 1975 under the watch of Bob Fosse and songwriters John Kander and Fred Ebb. As with most musicals, great and bad, the "book" -- the story -- is very simple. Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger), who has dreams of being a star on the Chicago stage, kills a callous lover and almost gets her sap husband Amos (John C. Reilly) to take the fall for it. Roxie is thrown in jail, where she meets two-time murderess Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a song-and-dance star who killed her husband and her sister after catching them in flagrante delicto. They compete for the attention of the hungry media and the venal lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), who can beat any murder rap as long as his client greases his palm to the tune of $5,000.

Chicago sees the judicial process as just another form of show-biz, a viewpoint that seemed overly sour in 1975 but looks perfectly plausible after the countless celebrity trials of recent years (including Winona Ryder, whose arm injury might've earned a smirk of approval from Velma). Roxie has well-scrubbed innocence to sell, and sells it so well that a sympathetic nation gives their hearts to her. Velma has wit and show-biz instinct -- she works with Billy on the manipulative bits of business she'll wow the jury with as if they were both choreographing a new number, as indeed they are. Taking Fosse's cue, director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) adore Roxie and Velma precisely because they're cast-iron lying vixens -- the breed of outsize divas that used to power classic Hollywood movies.

A lot of hard work must've gone into the film -- prepping the somewhat rusty Zellweger and Gere for musical numbers, for instance (Zeta-Jones has a more solid and recent singing-dancing background). But you don't see the sweat; you just see passion and joy. Chicago looks as though it was a great deal of fun to make, even if it wasn't. Gere is a somewhat forced singer, but he makes up for it with a colorful and sleazy turn, especially during his numbers "All I Care About" (money) and "Razzle Dazzle" (which re-imagines a tense courtroom moment as a tap-dance). Zellweger is a pleasure to watch as she morphs from frightened convict to seasoned spin-mistress, but Zeta-Jones is the real star here; she takes the stage (and the screen) with the hunger of a lioness, kicking the movie off beautifully with "All That Jazz" and sneering her way through the show-stopper "Cell Block Tango." Queen Latifah, too, scores as the prison matron with the ribald number "When You're Good to Mama." Even John C. Reilly gets a poignant tune, "Mr. Cellophane," lamenting Amos' invisibility.

I felt like applauding after all these numbers; I felt like applauding the movie. Chicago is exactly the sort of big, silly trifle that audiences in similarly dark times (war, depression) used to escape to, and I see no reason why it shouldn't be as huge a hit as it deserves to be. Loud, and without a shy bone in its body, Chicago shows us what we've been missing, just as (in an entirely different tone and context) Unforgiven showed us what a true example of another moribund genre -- the western -- should look like.

And it shows, along with 2001's cult item 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch,' that it's not lack of talent or brassiness that keeps musicals and movies segregated; it's Hollywood's perception of a lack of interest in movie musicals.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6494&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/28/07 06:45:08
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User Comments

7/18/14 mjcgubqeyq USA 5 stars
8/17/12 edutra awful 1 stars
2/24/12 Andy Best movie musical in years, actually 4 stars
8/06/11 tomA For a guy who doesn't like musicals, I have to admit, I enjoyed this movie 5 stars
12/06/09 Jeff Wilder Overblown sure. But entertaining 4 stars
8/02/09 Samantha Pruitt loved this movie, the music is super addicting! 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT DULL AND DREARY 1 stars
4/07/08 beau good! but not as good 'across the universe' but i enjoyed the acting and the songs 4 stars
1/26/08 Pamela White 15 seconds of fame or how to beat a rap 4 stars
3/16/07 becca umm wasn't so crazy about it 1 stars
2/23/07 Weblynx total fun, vampy, and would watch this a bunch of times 5 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday I was obsessed with this when it came out. I still like it, but the obsession is gone. 5 stars
1/29/07 Stanley Thai Filled with high energy and great music, Chicago is a great film! 5 stars
1/29/07 Lisa Craven Catherine & Renee were outstanding & I'd love to party with them. 5 stars
10/04/06 Jim L. Burden Great Entertainment! 5 stars
4/21/06 Becky If you don't like musicals, obviously don't see this. Its a great revamp of it, tho. 5 stars
3/31/06 Thomas Semesky The iPod idiots won't like this musical, but it's a classic with great performances. 5 stars
1/03/06 Wiseman I really hated how they didnt warn me it was a Musical, i was so fucking pissed off. 1 stars
12/22/05 cody this movie got best picture, what were thinking, only good in this flim is the acting,stunk 1 stars
10/31/05 Wisamane Ide rather have sex with a meat grinder 1 stars
10/13/05 Jack Garrett The worst musical since Lion King on Ice, RUBBISH! 1 stars
10/05/05 Jesse Taylor The best musical ever. The performances, espcially Zeta-Jones' are outstanding! 5 stars
6/20/05 Bob Kendleton Hammer hammer 3 stars
5/13/05 Jennifer Regan Very entertaining, so much talent 5 stars
4/22/05 Pippin007 This movie is SOO boring! Hoe did it lose to LOTR The Two Towers??????? 1 stars
4/17/05 ELI screeeeeeeeeeeeew yoooooooooooooou 5 stars
4/17/05 nole bore fest. save your money and time, complete garbage.... 1 stars
3/26/05 Denise good 4 stars
2/23/05 gracecchu Took my mother to watch it in the theater, not a bad flick. 4 stars
2/23/05 Joseph Venanzi editing makes anyone look like Gene Kelly 3 stars
2/21/05 fiona fan-bloody-tastic. What Moulin Rouge shouldn've been! 4 stars
2/19/05 Brenda Riley I loved it, hubby hated it! 5 stars
2/18/05 Shel ACK! I was asleep 5 minutes into it 1 stars
2/18/05 Eileen Lammers Loved it... bought it!! 5 stars
2/17/05 Dusty Johnson For a musical I thought it was great. 5 stars
2/17/05 Lisa Jochelson This movie kept me interested from begining to end. 5 stars
2/16/05 Miranda Lahr Great film, that man in boxers ooo 5 stars
2/13/05 Charlene Javier Renee and Catherine were excellent! 5 stars
2/12/05 Aimee Shelton This film, like Moulin Rouge, wasn't nearly as good as all its hype. 3 stars
2/12/05 ray booooring 1 stars
2/12/05 Kenneth Flickstein Great work. Music, dance and STYLE! 5 stars
2/12/05 rebecca gilbert wasn't as much as it was made out to be 3 stars
10/15/04 MARZ BORING 1 stars
9/08/04 Douglas Reese I LOVE THIS MOVIE A WHOLE LOT!!! :) 5 stars
8/19/04 courtney loved it for a musical great cast and make ya wona dance songs 5 stars
8/09/04 usef boring 1 stars
7/19/04 DM Fuck "Moulin Rouge!"; this musical has the goods 5 stars
7/01/04 Daveman A competent stage to screen adaptation of this musical/satire but grossly overrated. 4 stars
6/27/04 May I absolutly love this movie!!! Everyone should see it. 5 stars
6/26/04 M REAL acting, brings back the spirit of movie making. 5 stars
6/09/04 JENNA MY BOYFRIEND MADE ME SEE IT. I BROKE UP WITH HIM AFTERWARDS. 1 stars
5/19/04 tina a complete bore! 1 stars
5/13/04 Vacha not all that's it's hyped up to be, but the coreography was great and so were the songs. 4 stars
4/25/04 Carla i loved the music, and the story is hilariously unreal. 5 stars
4/18/04 valerie hart great movie if you like musicles exciting scenes which make you wonna sing along 4 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A highly entertaining toe-tapper with very catchy songs and awesome musical numbers! 5 stars
4/11/04 Wildcarde1 i thought this was supposed to be an awesome movie , it gave me a headache 1 stars
3/06/04 Jaco Visser Entriguing to the end! A musical masterpiece! 5 stars
2/29/04 chicago a bust how on earth did this win best picture. watching this was pure torture. 1 stars
2/12/04 Christopher Fantastic Musical 5 stars
2/10/04 c.r one of most dummiest musicals movie of all time! 2 stars
1/25/04 124 dribble. such boring putrid! 1 stars
1/23/04 Phil M. Aficionado Innovative and eye popping. Saw it twice and loved it both times. Bravo!!!! 5 stars
1/16/04 Voice of Reason Academy eats shit for giving oscars to this harpy vomit! "Total Crap" is too complimentary. 1 stars
1/11/04 Atanu An acute case of the emperor's new clothes. And zeta jones is Not classy. 1 stars
1/08/04 Chlo Gyllenhaal And all that jazz!!! 5 stars
1/06/04 George COOL 5 stars
1/03/04 A F FANTISTICly boring. Renee is a bad actress. 1 stars
1/02/04 christopher fantastic 5 stars
12/27/03 ezio boring 2 stars
12/20/03 regis what dribble. laughable 1 stars
12/11/03 christine awesome!!! i could watch it atleast 10 times in a row! 5 stars
12/07/03 sux aweful film. puts you to sleep. 1 stars
12/02/03 Chris Brilliant musical. 5 stars
11/22/03 benice overrated 2 stars
11/16/03 Lara BRILL!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/26/03 gera pretty boring 1 stars
10/18/03 Nunzeo I thought this movie was good. Wow the academy has really lost there minds! 1 stars
10/14/03 Jasper The Imp The Two Towers was robbed of glory by this piece of crap!!! 2 stars
10/12/03 jackson boring movie, more of a chik flick.... 1 stars
10/05/03 Karen Moore Blows UNFORGIVEN way out of the water as worst "best picture" winner ever! 1 stars
9/25/03 fern catherine zeta is a wonderful singer, she should more 4 stars
9/18/03 oOgA_BoOgA absouletely great how could u not love it 5 stars
9/13/03 Monster W. Kung Overrated, but certainly better than that Moulin Rouge drivel (but hey, what isn't?) 3 stars
9/08/03 Amanda extremly enjoyable, awsome soundtrack 4 stars
9/03/03 Kyle Pretty good (for a musical). Wished Queen L. had more than 1 number though! 4 stars
9/02/03 gary a lot of people got up and left during the movie. it was pretty boring. 2 stars
8/27/03 samantha harris 1hr 40mins of total crap! waste of money 1 stars
8/27/03 Katie everyone who says they don't like oviously has no class (pardon the pun!) 5 stars
8/25/03 Stacey Wonderful I can't stop watching it! 5 stars
8/17/03 robbie keane thought i'd enjoy this one.............save your money not worth it! 1 stars
8/08/03 terrence what was this.......complete garbage 1 stars
7/30/03 Eliza It beats Moulan Rouge 5 stars
7/30/03 Abby Who ever said that this movie is crap they are out of their minds it is the best musical 5 stars
7/18/03 Chris Whatever happened to musicals? Chicago tells us we need to make more just like it. 5 stars
7/16/03 BAD BAD 2 stars
7/14/03 STEW whats all the hoopla 2 stars
7/12/03 ingred prolly the years biggest let down.....what a shame 1 stars
7/03/03 susan wakefield wake me when it's over..... 1 stars
7/02/03 ken really dumb 1 stars
6/29/03 John Bale Sweet Charity meets Gentleman Prefer Blondes raunchy vigorous jazz musical technically tops 5 stars
6/25/03 hugh more lke shitago 1 stars
6/25/03 Jack Andrews awesome... it blew my mind away! 5 stars
6/20/03 George Jung Perfect unless you're a dumbass. 5 stars
6/16/03 caramel jenkins boring.....not a very intelligent film 1 stars
6/14/03 not impressed can u say BORING 1 stars
6/13/03 janice to bland too boring.....what a dissappointment 2 stars
6/11/03 Hepta Hooty Worst movie of 2002. Worst "Best Picture" winner ever. Sucks zombie turds! 1 stars
6/09/03 Chuck Perfect... uncool for 20 year olds 5 stars
6/08/03 INGSBY STARTS OFF COOL.....BUT HALF WAY TROUGH U'VE HAD ENOUGH 2 stars
6/07/03 tonya was'nt impressed 1 stars
5/24/03 TheOthersFan a lot like Moulin Rouge, except for one thing: it's a good movie 5 stars
5/17/03 Mrs.Bloom fabalous couldnt believe how amazing this film was a must see 5 stars
5/17/03 Turtle Never has a musical been so enjoyable! And Richard Gere CAN sing! 5 stars
5/16/03 Piz As a natural hater of musicals, this one was pretty good 4 stars
5/16/03 Chris A wonderful movie ! totally amazing. 5 stars
5/08/03 Magicalme wow good film 5 stars
5/05/03 Catherine loved it 5 stars
5/04/03 boring boring 1 stars
5/04/03 stacy please save ur money. 1 stars
5/02/03 mackie i loved it 1 stars
4/30/03 trojan helen dirty American film 3 stars
4/13/03 Joesco Top notch - Renee unexpectedly good but CZJ outclasses her as a singer/dancer 5 stars
4/08/03 Mystique I love jazz ! 5 stars
4/08/03 Jim CZJ is not only a murderer, she's a thief -- she steals this movie. 4 stars
4/06/03 Zaharin Hamid aka The Movie Samseng The BEST movie I've seen so far this year. I can't even try to describe how much I love it! 5 stars
4/05/03 Jack Sommersby Not a classic, but a colorful and entertaining ride. Zellweger is sensational. 4 stars
4/04/03 Dominique Black Best movie I have ever seen! 5 stars
3/31/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik I love it, though it doesn't deserve Best Film. 5 stars
3/29/03 Shaun full of glitter and stage lights and all that jazz 4 stars
3/27/03 Jen It was pretty good, did have some slow points though. 4 stars
3/27/03 Morgan Chicago is the best movie ever, Well worth the effort! 5 stars
3/25/03 guisada Chicago is EXCELLENT. 5 stars
3/23/03 Cherry U HATES HAVE NO MUSICAL TASTE!.. EAT SUSHI! 5 stars
3/21/03 Michael A beyond excellent experience. The whole movie theatre was in complete awe. 5 stars
3/20/03 Natty Brilliant from start to finish. 5 stars
3/20/03 Beach Nagisa IT IS GREAT and AMAZING!!!! 5 stars
3/20/03 bam great 5 stars
3/19/03 Denise Gomez It's Phenomenal! 5 stars
3/18/03 HE GREAT 5 stars
3/18/03 Shadaan Felfeli A GREAT musical. After seeing 'The Hours'...this is very refreshing indeed. 4 stars
3/17/03 Ed it was a great film... i enjoyed it very much. 5 stars
3/17/03 Sharna i luv it! 5 stars
3/17/03 Denise Reibel I've seen it twice and can't get it out of my head. It's addictive. 5 stars
3/17/03 Chloe Fantabulous, brilliant! 5 stars
3/16/03 TouchyRogue THIS MOVIE ROCKED! 5 stars
3/16/03 Shaun brillent acting and adaption singing a bit weak in parts but catherine shines 4 stars
3/11/03 Hawkeye "And he ran into my knife. He ran into my knife ten times!" Great stuff. 5 stars
3/11/03 George Raft Great movie! Great music! Finally, an American film at its' best! 5 stars
3/08/03 frank roberts. outstanding fast-paced, great singing and dancing zellweger and jones perfectly cast, 5 stars
3/02/03 JH Coverse Wonderful!! Fantastic!! Awsome!! Zellweger was fabulous !! 5 stars
3/02/03 !! THE BEST FILM 5 stars
2/25/03 ownerofdajoint all stars...what a great flick... 5 stars
2/22/03 Mitsaso Jazzy! 5 stars
2/18/03 LoonyGoon The movie musical is back! 5 stars
2/15/03 R.W. Welch Remarkably polished and energetic musical -- exceptional performances, camera work, editing 5 stars
2/15/03 Jeff It sucked all ass 1 stars
2/14/03 V.K I loved it! it was the best! 5 stars
2/11/03 Goofy Maxwell Great, but tiresome. A little Bazzle-dazzle mighta woken my azz up. 4 stars
2/09/03 Kooler Zzzzzz. Zellweger about as compelling in this role as a dog scratching itself. 3 stars
2/03/03 thejames Not bad film, but not great. 3 stars
2/02/03 scott A GREAT FILM 5 stars
1/31/03 Jake exhilarating! 5 stars
1/29/03 Angolmois I hate musicals but I almost enjoyed this one. 3 stars
1/29/03 Angry Black Man Would have been better if REAL singers were cast. 4 stars
1/29/03 Ed Parry A fabulous film. I actually wanted to applaud some of the musical numbers in the cinema! 5 stars
1/24/03 Matthew Smith exhilarating from start to finish 5 stars
1/22/03 Jen Good film....Good acting....except for Richard Gere 4 stars
1/21/03 LessThanColleen Awesome music with wonderful actors to go alone with it 5 stars
1/20/03 Andrew Callaway Great New Orleans jazz soundtrack... a good film, too. 4 stars
1/18/03 Art Great Flick - 5 stars
1/11/03 Suzz Remarkable film; a don't miss if you like musicals 5 stars
1/11/03 Law amazing! 5 stars
1/11/03 M Why couldn't they get REAL singers and dancers 3 stars
1/09/03 Flounder A great musical, but the liberal message leaves something to be desired. 3 stars
1/07/03 Kenmeister Well-acted and well-sung with a high energy cast. 5 stars
1/01/03 Dave Weston A brilliant film interpretation of a classic musical 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Dec-2002 (R)
  DVD: 20-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  23-Jan-2003




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