cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Click for full sized poster


Starring Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski
Screenplay by Bill Condon based on the Broadway musical by John Kander (composer), Fred Ebb (lyrics) and Bob Fosse
Directed by Rob Marshall

IN SHORT: The Best Film of the Year 2002. [Rated PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements. 110 minutes]

In general, it would not be an inaccurate characterization to say that we hate musicals. We hate stories that stop suddenly so a song or dance number can be forcibly inserted which is where most film adaptations of Broadway musicals drop the ball. The only two musical films we've liked over the last thirty or so years have all sideswiped that problem by setting themselves inside a theatrical environment. Bob Fosse's Cabaret set itself in a Berlin nightclub. Bob Fosse's All That Jazz was a thinly disguised biography of the director/choreographer. Fosse didn't get to film his second stage collaboration with Kander and Ebb, Chicago. That credit goes to choreographer Rob Marshall who takes the ball, runs with it, and joins the very short list of filmed musicals we like. We can't (and wouldn't try to) compare Fosse's original with Marshall's since we never saw the original. We can sum up the experience succinctly:

What a glorious way to spend time in a movie theater!

With more creator credits than you can shake a stick at, it is remarkable that none of the principal characters in Chicago get the short shrift. The songs, whether solo or group numbers, never get tin the way of the story and that story foreshadows enough possible violence -- 47 years is a long time for a city like Chicago to go without a judicial execution, so one must be coming -- that we had to check our watch twice when the end credits rolled. Murder. Glamour. Sex. Short skirts and Media Circuses and All That Jazz, all in less than two hours. Remarkable

The actual story beyond the story is true: In the glory days of the Roaring Twenties, a murder by a woman named Roxie Hart generated tabloid headlines in Chicago. A hit play was staged in 1926, written by Maurine Dallas Watkins, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. A silent film followed in 1927 plus a talkie starring Ginger Rogers in 1942. Kander, Ebb and Fosse went to Broadway in 1975 with Fosse's wife Gwen Verdon, and Chita Rivera in title roles. Both Fosse and Verdon have passed, but Rivera makes a cameo early on in this film.

Chicago's story begins before the Hart murder, though Roxie (Renee Zellweger, click for StarTalk), a chorus girl and lover Fred Caseley (Dominic West), who has promised to "make some calls to help her career" are in the Club Onyx when star performer Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones, click for StarTalk) shows up for her sister act minus her sister. A month later Hart murders Fred and gets her sap of a dimwit husband Amos Hart (John C. Reilly), to take the fall. Assistant DA Martin Harrison (Colm Feore) sees through the ruse and sends Roxie to murderer's row at Cook County Jail, though no one has been executed in Cook County in 47 years. There a couple of bucks in the hand of Matron Mama Morton (Queen Latifah) will take care of the basic needs including a recommendation to hire attorney Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), who has reporter Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski) firmly in his pocket. Soon, Roxie's case is an even more celebrated murder than Velma's and Roxie starts to believe all the Flynn concocted stories about her background and motives.

Roxie, in this version, has a vivid fantasy life and a burning desire to be as famous a performer as Velma (and her sister Veronica) once were. Everything in Roxie's life becomes an excuse for some kind of song and/or dance number, all of which meld perfectly with the drama. Add Taye Diggs as the bandleader/ emcee of all the proceedings and there's little that can top our infamous duo's murderous fame.

Except for Go-to-Hell-Kitty (Lucy Liu), who tops 'em all by killing not only her cheating husband but the two, count 'em two, women she caught sharing his bed. When Roxie is no longer the focus of media attention, well, she's going to have to do something dramatic. Before that happens, Velma gets to smirk the big smirk, seeing Roxie stew.

There's no "white hat" among our leading characters, though Reilly's Amos is the most sympathetic of the bunch. It may help to know that the most famous radio program of the day was called "Amos and Andy," to get one of the jokes in the script but the joke has a wonderful payoff as Roxie comes to trial. And while we've been tossing the original director's name all over the place, we're reminded that all the choreography for Chicago, is by Rob Marshall. As the first production number, "All That Jazz" hits the screen, any grownup cannot miss what we'll describe as a tribute to the main set piece of Cabaret. From there on in, Chicago the Film evolves into something spectacular by the time the final curtain comes down. Gere dances as well as Zellweger and Zeta-Jones can sing, and that's no snide aside.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Chicago, he would have paid . . .


sex, murder, short skirts, long legs and all that jazz. We'll see it twice.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Rob Marshall
Click to buy films starring Richard Gere
Click to buy films starring Catherine Zeta-Jones
Click to buy films starring Renee Zellweger
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.