First things first: I love this movie. Own it, have the soundtrack and sing along in the car and drop everything to watch it when it comes on tv, love it. It has many of my favorite movie characteristics: Richard Gere (my favorite old guy crush), Taye Diggs, it’s (semi) historical, a musical and…well, that’s it really, but that’s enough for me!
Taking place in Chicago (obviously) in the roaring 20’s, the movie is actually based on the 1975 stage musical, which was an adaptation of a 1926 non-musical play. So Chicago has had an illustrious history, with the 1996 revival of the musical still on Broadway and touring today.
Starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones as “jazz killers” Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, respectively and “the silver tongued prince of the court room” Billy Flynn, played by an outstanding Richard Gere, the movie is all laughs and songs from start to finish. Chicago was something of a longshot for Best Picture; the last time the Academy had honored a musical prior to 2002 was back in 1968, for Oliver!, and it’s safe to say that a great musical like this doesn’t come along very often.
Directed by Rob Marshall, Chicago is what I think every musical should strive to be for one reason: it seamlessly integrates the musical numbers into the plot, which is where many musicals fails (see: Nine). If anything, the musical interludes elevate the plot! Far from being distracting, the songs are a welcome interlude to an otherwise slightly above average storyline.
Example: the Cell Block Tango, featuring a small cameo by signer Mya.
HOW AWESOME WAS THAT?? OK, I know you didn’t really watch it, you totally should though, it will be worth it!
Anyways, before taking home the big prize, Catherine Zeta-Jones also took home the statue for Best Supporting Actress, bringing me another awesome aspect of Chicago: the stellar cast. Coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of either female leads, the whole ensemble (including supporting roles from Christine Baranski, Queen Latifah and John C. Reilly), is great. Not to mention that all the actors did their own singing and dancing too!
If you haven’t seen Chicago, well, what are you waiting for?!? It’s a nice, fluffy movie with awesome songs like Rent, but without the heavy subject/sadness. And it has Richard Gere. Nuff said.
Fun facts (courtesy of IMDB and Wikipedia)
- Renée Zellweger had no singing or dancing training prior to this film.
- John Travolta, Kevin Spacey, John Cusack, Steve Martin and Hugh Jackman were all considered for the role of Billy Flynn, and Angelina Jolie auditioned for the role of Velma Kelly.
- Richard Gere took tap dance lessons for three months for his role in Chicago
- Became Miramax’s highest grossing film when its domestic box office hit $171,000,000.
- Budget: $45 Million, gross revenue: $306 million+
In closing, I pose you two questions: Musicals: love ‘em or hate ‘em? And, more importantly, does anyone else have a creepy old guy (or girl) crush, or am I alone? If not for the fact of Pretty Woman, I’d think I was alone, but come on! That’s really the best.movie.ever.