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Chicago (DVD) Review

Winner of six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chicago is a brilliant big screen adaptation of choreographer-director Bob Fosse's 1975 Broadway musical of the same name. The story’s ingenious jabs at tabloid fame and the fleeting tastes of the popular mindset, omnipresent in both the 1920’s (the movie’s setting) and the 1970’s (the date of its writing) is just as relevant today in an age where criminal celebrities such as O.J. Simpson, the Menedez Brothers, and Scott Peterson dominate the pop culture airwaves. Set in Capone’s backyard in the midst of the Roaring 20’s, Chicago boasts an all-star Hollywood cast that breathes much needed life (i.e. box office success) back into the big screen musical. Broadway fans and movie viewers in general won’t be disappointed.

Chicago stars Renee Zellweger as Roxie Hart. Roxie, wife of sweet, boring Amos Hart (John C. Reilly), has an affair with furniture salesman Fred Casely (Dominic West) who she thinks knows the right people to get her a gig as a singer at a swanky nightclub. But when Roxie finds out that Fred is just using her, she shoots him dead right there in her bedroom. When Amos returns home, he sticks up for Roxie, telling the police that he shot the intruder. At least, until he finds out that the dead man is Fred Casley, the man who recently sold them their furniture. Retracting his story, the police arrest Roxie for Fred Casely’s murder.

Meanwhile, sexy songstress and half of a famous Chicago nightclub sister act, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), sits in jail herself awaiting the day of her trial for the murder of her husband and sister who she caught performing their famous number “the spread eagle”. Roxie asks Velma for help, but gets the cold shoulder. But at least one person in the prison is willing to help Roxie. Matron “Mama” Morton (Queen Latifah), overseer of the woman’s prison, will do anything for anyone for the right price. For fifty bucks, she places a phone call to the greatest defense lawyer in modern-day times, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). But a phone call only gets her in the door. Roxie’s husband Amos must come up with the money to pay Billy, which he does prior to his being quickly forgotten.

Manipulating the media to the best of his ability, Billy turns Roxie into an overnight celebrity – the hottest sensation to sweep Chicago since, well – since the next one that will come along. Velma Kelly fades from the headlines, and the two rivals compete with each other for the public’s and Billy Flynn’s attention.

Chicago is a refreshing escape from the drudgery of modern day box office blockbusters with its insightful peering into the mob mentality of the public psyche and its colorful characters. Queen Latifah steals the show with her portrayal of Mama Morton in a film packed with knockout performances by Hollywood mainstays. All of the stars sing their own numbers, and the soundtrack is simply spectacular. Broadway purists may be critical of the final product, but no one can doubt that Chicago is as big a hit on screen as it is on stage. Do yourself a favor and don’t overlook it.

Submitted by:

Britt Gillette

Britt Gillette is author of The DVD Report, a blog where you can find more reviews like this one. Source: http://thedvdreport.blogspot.com/2006/02/chicago-dvd.html





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