Jazzy life made brighter at home
August 28, 2003
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The movie follows the story of Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a pair of killers looking for the fame and Chicago nightclub careers that can come with murder. Over the course of a jail term and lawyer Billy Flynn’s (Richard Gere) circus of a trial, “Chicago” effectively skewers the society’s obsession with celebrity and the media’s need for scandal.
While everything looks and sounds nice, there’s the overwhelming sense that everyone involved is making a musical and is doing their best to beat the audience over the head with that fact.
Director Rob Marshall took the bold step of putting almost all the musical numbers inside Roxie’s head. Over the course of the film, the numbers go from innovative to subtle to distracting.
But the movie’s saving grace is a handful of wonderful performances, led by the always-interesting John C. Reilly.
As Amos, the beleaguered and trampled husband of Roxie, Reilly gives a performance with more heart and reality than anything else in the movie, especially during the heartbreaking number “Mr. Cellophane.”
A movie with as much action and production as “Chicago” seems built for an extras-packed DVD, but this edition comes up a little short. The commentary track with Marshall and writer Bill Condon reveals the many intricacies of developing the movie from the original play with massive rearranging and cutting. There’s also a few great stories from the production, but the only problem is wading through Marshall’s self-congratulatory prattle.
The “making of” feature just scratches the surface of the complicated production of “Chicago.” While appropriately giving attention to the costumes and rehearsal that went into the movie, other key elements are glossed over.
A little more respect and attention to the groundbreaking work of Bob Fosse (who choreographed the origiinal play) would be nice, as would a deeper look at the rehearsal process.
But the DVD shines when it comes to musical aspects. There’s the fun deleted number of “Class,” a biting and bitter duet with Zeta-Jones and Latifah. And most importantly, the musical numbers look and sound great.
The band is crystal clear, Gere’s tap dance sounds extraordinary, the nightclub looks smokier and the prison looks brighter on DVD.
“Chicago” may be style over substance, but the overwhelming size of this musical is well realized on the small screen.
DVD features: BC,”Matthew T. Olson”