Chicago (2002)

chicago poster 2001 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great acting, good visuals, smart story

It is a musical and that could turn off some

Movie Info

Movie Name: Chicago

Studio: Miramax

Genre(s): Musical/Comedy

Release Date(s): December 27, 2002

MPAA Rating: PG-13


Girls, guns, and Chicago…a dangerous combination

Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) has a dream…to be famous on the big stage. She hates her married life with Amos (John C. Reilly) and is having an affair with a man named Fred Casely (Dominic West) who she thinks can help her career. When Roxie learns Fred has betrayed her, she kills him in a jealous rage. Now, Roxie’s up for murder and competing for the spotlight with another murderer named Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who’s responsible for the death of her husband and sister. When Roxie hires an expensive lawyer named Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) with a gift for flair, Roxie could be heading for the gallows or the big time.

Directed by Rob Marshall, Chicago is a comedy musical.  It adapts the 1975 Bob Fosse and Fred Ebb Broadway musical which was revived in 1996.  The film was released to critical acclaim and won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound with nominations for Best Actress (Renee Zellweger), Best Supporting Actor (John C. Reilly), Best Supporting Actress (Queen Latifah), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song (“I Move On”).

Chicago is a real throwback with a modern touch.  A musical hadn’t won Best Picture since Oliver! in 1968 and comparing the visuals of Oliver! to Chicago show how things have changed…while presenting a classic musical story.


Pop! Six! Squish! Uh uh, Cicero, Lipschitz!

Chicago does follow traditional musicals with big flashy numbers (there were very little computer effects…allegedly only in the puppeteer part had some wire work where computers erased the wires). Smartly, Rob Marshall tweaked the musical numbers by having them occur in the minds of the characters (primarily Roxie). When a number is about to start, they retreat into their fantasies and it becomes a Bob Fosse number. The best example of this is the “Cell Block Tango” which is probably the best choreographed and shot song in the movie.

Part of the strength in the movie comes from the actors. I started out a Renee Zellweger fan, but over the years she gotten bad. Here, she is tolerable and was nominated for Best Actress for her effort (she lost to Nicole Kidman in The Hours). Catherine Zeta-Jones is great and really steals the show as the sassy Velma with the bad attitude. She really looks like a stage performers in her numbers and beat out Queen Latifah who was nominated for her role as Mama Morton. On the male side John C. Reilly does a good job as the stepped on Amos. The real shame is that Richard Gere didn’t receive a nomination for his role as Billy Flynn…it showed a lot of range for him and he was a fun character with his sheer ego and smooth sleaze.


Billy Flynn at your service…for a price!

Chicago looks and sounds great (most of its Academy Awards come from this). The numbers are perfectly choreographed giving the picture a really slick music video look. The music video look gets wide appeal by having a music style which can appeal to an older audience. This is part of the reason that Chicago meshed for so many.

Chicago is good, but probably won’t win over people who don’t like musicals. The story is still relevant as it was in 1975 (where it bombed as a musical). Despite that, you should try to give Chicago a chance. It isn’t the best movie or musical ever, but it is an interesting modern take on the musical, and that modern take has brought the musical back to life.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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