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"Chicago" Movie Review
Singing, Dancing and All That Jazz

Renee Zellweger in "Chicago."
©2002 Miramax Films

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Richard Gere tap-dances, Catherine Zeta-Jones struts, and Renee Zellweger sings - and miraculously it all works. Even the normally sedate John C. Reilly shows off his set of pipes in this lavish extravaganza. "Chicago" is a rousing, sultry, scintillating spectacle that mixes adultery and murder with comedy, drama and dance.

It's 1929 and all the world's a stage - at least that's how it feels to vaudeville star, Velma Kelley (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Velma and her sister are partners in a song and dance act managed by Velma's husband. When Velma finds her two-timing husband in the arms of her sister, the act comes to an abrupt end with the two lovers shot to death and Velma behind bars for their murders.

Meanwhile wannabe singer/dancer Roxie Hart cheats on her simple husband, Amos (John C. Reilly) with a man she believes can make her famous. Once she discovers the man is just a furniture salesman with zero connections to show biz, Roxie pulls a gun on him and winds up in jail alongside her idol, Velma. In jail, the star and the starlet fight for freedom and headlines, and vie for the attention of legal eagle Billy Flynn (Richard Gere). Flynn's never lost a case and more importantly, he has the Chicago media feeding from the palm of his hand.

This stylishly sexy movie is based on the award-winning play "Chicago," adapted by Bob Fosse, John Kander and Fred Ebb from the original play by Maurine Watkins. Unlike the stage play, most of the movie's song and dance numbers spring from the imagination of Renee Zellweger's character, Roxie Hart. Zellweger is perfect as the sweet, innocent-looking blonde ingénue with a fiery imagination and a lust for the stage. She belts out songs and dances with a grace of a lifelong Broadway performer.

Catherine Zeta-Jones' experience in musicals onstage serves her well in her role as Velma Kelley. A fan of the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie musicals, Zeta-Jones' smoldering sensuality heats up the screen. Her solo dance numbers are mesmerizing and she pumps the energy level of the film to a fevered pitch.

Richard Gere is perhaps the most surprisingly delightful member of the cast. His performance as Billy Flynn could very well be one of his best in dozens of years. He displays a sly sense of humor, delivering lines that provoke genuine belly-laughs from the audience.

Thank you Baz Luhrmann for bringing back the movie musical, and thank you Rob Marshall for picking up the gauntlet and delivering a wildly entertaining musical. From the casting to the choreography to the song lyrics, "Chicago" has all the right moves and hits all the right notes.

Overall Grade: A

"Chicago" is rated PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements.

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