And All That Jazz

Friday night, while Pepperkat and a friend were asserting their independence by going to see Two Towers alone, the Mrs and Whiny and I took in Chicago.

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.

What? I suppose you thought those MTV videos like Moulin Rouge and Grease were great musicals? Or perhaps you’re thinking of Car Wash or The Wiz?

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!

American Gigolo? Blech!
An Officer and a Gentleman? Boring!
Pretty Woman? Gods no! That’s got him and Julia Roberts. *shudder*

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…”

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11 Responses to And All That Jazz

  1. Lambchop says:

    I also love old musicals. Ok – I admit I loved Grease and Xanadu, but I was 10 or 11 at the time, so sue me! LOL

    I did like Moulin Rouge, but mainly because I kept watching it thinking, “wow – Obi Wan can really sing!”

    After that glowing review, I’ll have to go see Chicago. And you’re right – it’s been a LONG time since there were any good non-Disney musicals. (One you did forget, along the lines of Little Shop, was Rocky Horror.)

    Speaking of musicals, do you remember that one they tried to do for TV – Cop Rock? I shudder at the thought of it, even though I never actually watched it.

  2. Speaker says:

    Sollonor GIP, you didn’t like Moulin Rogue!? FOR SHAME! What was wrong with it!? But assuming for a second that you really didn’t like that one, you left out TWO wonderful musicals that happen to be my favorites! “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” and “The Blues Brothers” And shame on you for not listing them!!!
    OH and Don’t get Brian started on that Buffy Episode 😉
    -J/K of course 😉

  3. Ric The Schmuck says:

    It seems that Oscar didn’t like Mr. Gere as much as you, Sol… Probably punishment for his political ranting while presenting in years past.
    (I liked him and Ms.Teeth in Pretty Woman, but nothing much either of them have done before or since.)
    Scratching my head, trying to come up with another ommission in your musicals list…. something esoteric… The Wall? 🙂 (fun movie, all music, but probably not a musical, huh?)
    I don’t usually go out to see many movies these days, waiting for video most of the time. But I knew the minute I saw the ads for Chicago that I was going to need to get to that. IF they’re playing it here….grrrrrrr. They weren’t on the first weekend of nation-wide release. 🙁
    At least the cheapie theaters will run it, so I’ll get it there, anyway.

  4. Solonor says:

    No, I really didn’t like Moulin Rouge. I don’t know why. It just struck me wrong. “Blues Brothers” and “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?” are great, but not musicals. They’re movies with music in them. Not the same thing.

    I did forget “Rocky Horror” dang it! I knew there’d be one. Still, it falls into place with “Little Shop of Horrors” as a minor aberration, not a big studio musical.

  5. Speaker says:

    I’m sorry Sol, I must disagree. O Brother Where Art Thou AND Blues Brothers are musicals. They both have more music than a lot of musicals and the songs fit into the story seamlessly. Blues Brothers even had big dance numbers. I know the Coen brothers set out to WRITE a musical so it is technically one, and Blues Brothers is just by default. Blues Brothers 2000 was even more blatantly a musical, it just wasn’t as good as the first one. Both movies use some of the best music in history also. Blues and Bluegrass are both wonderful!
    Oh Well, just my opinion!

  6. faewench says:

    based just on this review i would like to see this… thank you for sharing this:)))

    always enjoy your writings


  7. Not So Red Menace says:

    Thank you for this review, I HAVE to see Chicago now. By the way, I LOVED Evita. I’m not sure if you have to be a Madonna fan or not but I thought it was awesome!

  8. jewdez says:

    I’m with you…I thoroughly enjoyed Chicago. I did not wanna go (cause it is a musical) but fell in love. It was all about CZJ for me though. That woman just captivated my erm attention. I love the cell block scene, he had it coming…. Great Review you gave 🙂

  9. Carla says:

    I didn’t like Moulin Rouge either. 🙂 I didn’t think I’d like this movie but I did. I LOVED the tap dance, it was perfect. However, as much as I love Renee (and I love her alot), I don’t think she deserved that Golden Globe as much as Catherine Zeta-Jones. That woman worked her ass off. Renee’s only shining moment to me was the ventriloquist scene. Taye Diggs should have been in the movie a bit more though. GREAT review.

  10. Ric The Schmuck says:

    CJZ is just plain yummy. Deadly yummy. Wow.
    The stills from Chicago that show her just plain kill me……. be still my beating heart. 🙂
    It’s my opinion that every home ought to have one!

  11. Ric The Schmuck says:

    er, CZJ. doh! 🙂

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