Directed by Rob Marshall, starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah and John C Reilly.
Class, as someone once remarked, is when they're marching you out of town but you're leading the band. And show girl Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones), has a whole city lined up behind her. Facing a double murder rap, Kelly has the papers monitoring her every move in the cell block with lawyer Billy Flynn (Gere) stirring up the fuss on the outside. But Velma is about to learn that no one gets it all their own way when wannabe Roxie Hart (Zellweger) winds up beside her on death row. Roxie killed her lover when he lied about getting her a shot at the big time but is determined that jail could be the best place to make a show-stealing debut. That is if Billy Flynn will take her case...
Some great songs, Zellweger and Zeta-Jones sharpening their claws on prison bars and Richard Gere running around in boxer shorts and a flat cap. Two out of three ain't bad. Any wonders about whether the lady leads were up to bringing stage to screen are blown away within 30 seconds of Zeta-Jones booming out 'All That Jazz' and setting up a film that's high on hijinks but low on lasting memories.
Director Marshall deserves encore after encore for getting the dozen numbers to move so well, it's just that when the music's over, the rest of the film falls flat. Whatever excitement you get from watching a musical in a theatre and waiting for the next song and dance to come along never really translates here, with the drama so clunky you expect to see the props crew wheeling the scenes behind the actors. Sure it's bitchy and funny, but as Velma herself might say, the action always beats the talk.
While Zellweger went home with the Golden Globe for her nice take on blonde ambition it's tough not to feel for Zeta-Jones who had the smaller part but the best songs. When the movie and Chicago the city get all wrapped up in Roxie's wiles, you just wish there was more for the bobbed-one to do. As for Gere, he may be game for laugh and able to hold a note, but there's just that niggling doubt about him being too old for the part that takes away from his time in the spotlight. A bit more chemistry between himself and his clients wouldn't have gone amiss either.
'Chicago' closes with an ending which doesn't live up to some of the thrills preceding it, but it's a film which manages to gloss (and rouge and pout) over many of its shortcomings with its sense of fun. Go see, just don't try out your own renditions in the office.