Monday, October 6, 2008

Chicago (2002)

5, 6, 7, 8... Jazz! In my mind, Chicago is owed a great deal of credit for reviving the musical on film. The 2002 film adaptation of this 1976 play, which was itself based on a 1926 play, paved the road for film adaptations of Hairspray, The Producers,1 and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. As a lifelong lover of musicals, I have to say that the execution of this one is fantastic. The topic is dark and risque, and the music and cast are fantastic. Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Riley, Renee Zellwigger, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all really made the characters come to life.

The story follows Zellwigger's character who kills her lover and the trial that follows. The movie does an interesting job of interweaving fantasy and reality. While a musical number takes place we see it both as a theatrical version and as a dramatic version. This is accomplished quite well in the scenes where Queen Latifah introduces the girls to the prison while signing "When You're Good to Mama" or when Gere, Zellwigger and Christine Baranski do the "Press Conference Rag."

It's a great movie, and it was well deserving of the Academy attention it received. The songs and performances all work well. If you've never seen it, I recommend that you do. If you have seen, see it again. It'll be a swell time.

1. Of course, both these musicals were based on feature films, so they occupy a slightly different place in the movie/musical cannon.