Right off, you must realize that Whiny and I are not stereotypical men when it comes to musicals (I said stereotypical, don’t get all huffy). We’re both big fans of Rodgers and Hammerstein. One of my favorite movies of all time is The Wizard of Oz, and I love Lil’ Abner – not to mention Little Shop of Horrors and all the Disney and Muppet musicals. So, the thought of going to see a musical wasn’t a big stumbling block. What’s kept me away since the opening of Chicago was a combination of doubt and Richard Gere.
The doubt came in because (other than the Disney, Muppet, Little Shop of Horrors films) I haven’t seen a good movie musical produced since Oliver! or Fiddler on the Roof. I thought Cabaret was boring as hell, and A Chorus Line just plain sucked.
I must admit, I have not seen Evita, and there’s probably some other one that’s come out in the last 30 years that’s gonna hang me on this, but I can’t think of them. So, I surmised that the chances of Chicago being on par with, say, The Music Man or The Sound of Music, were between slim and none.
Then there’s Richard Gere.
I cannot remember a single thing I have ever seen him in that I liked. And not just him – the whole, damned movie!
I’d better stop. I’m getting ill.
So, you see why I hesitated. It just looked like a disaster waiting to happen. On top of that, Venita would probably love it, and I’d be stuck with either keeping my mouth shut about it or getting The Look.™ (You know, the one I’m gettin right now as she reads this…)
But, far from disaster, I am here to tell you that this is one of the great movie musicals of all time. I am deadly serious. This goes on the shelf right next to South Pacific and My Fair Lady. It’s a classic.
Renee Zellweger (whom I have always loved) deserves every award she’s nominated for and every award she wasn’t. She is flat-out awesome as murderess and stage-struck wannabe, Roxie Hart. She is a singing, dancing reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Catherine Zeta-Jones’ is Roxie’s idol, Velma Kelly. She plays the Jane Russell part of the equation perfectly. Just the right amount of haughty “go away kid, ya bother me” at the beginning, with equal amount of desperation as Roxie begins to steal her spotlight.
Gere is awesome as Billy Flynn. I especially love his courtroom tap dance and the press conference puppet number. He brings just the right amount of smarmy charm to the role of the superstar lawyer.
The rest of the cast is just as great. John C. Reilly, as Roxie’s hapless husband, Amos; Queen Latifah, as “Mama” Morton the crooked prison matron; and Christine Baranski, as newspaper reporter Mary Sunshine. There’s even a cameo by Lucy Liu.
If nothing else, go and see the movie for the ensemble piece Cell Block Tango (He Had It Comin’) – “He ran into my knife. Ten times…”