Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Chicago (2002)

Starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones & Richard Gere

Rating 8/10

Another musical, another Best Picture winner. What is it about musicals that gets us all fired up and enjoying ourselves? Is it the toe-tapping music, the exceptional dance numbers, the overly-dramatic storyline? Are we so utterly surprised that a stage musical can be transferred to a film… a FILM! And that Hollywood stars can sing so well? (Don’t they have any flaws?)

I love musicals because I love the combination of awesome storytelling, music and dance. They’re much better live but I can get a bit teary with the film versions as well. However, I’m not sure about this one. I sat there hands cupping my chin, eyes staring, blinking at the screen, toes tapping occasionally but I think I was a little disappointed. The production was great, the direction and the acting and the singing and the dancing really cool but I just didn’t connect with the story.

Plot time: Roxie Hart (Zellweger)  is a selfish, shallow singer wanna-be. One night she goes to a sultry nightclub to see her hero (and in her mind her future self), Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones). Kelly has arrived late cos she, well she had murdered her husband and her sister who were having a fling. But she danced the guilt away and was arrested after that.

A few months later, Hart is dumped by her lover Fred (Dominic West) and shoots the man dead after he is mean to her (poor little starlet). Then hubby Amos (John C. Reilly) comes home and takes responsibility for the murder thinking that Fred had broken in to rob the place. Then he finds out the truth and dobs his sweet old wifey into the police.

Hart is arrested and sent to the same jail as Kelly. The murderess wing is run by the corrupt warden, Matron ‘Mama’ Morton (Queen Latifah) who has a fierce reputation but lacks any true bite. Matron helps Hart hire the best lawyer around, the man who has never lost a case, Billy Flynn. Hart is then made to look like a victim, a poor beautiful starlet, corrupted by a cruel world and Chicago falls in love with her, then out with her, then in with her, then ultimately out! In the end, all she is left with is her five minutes of fame and nothing else.

It’s a pretty sad tale of what fame can do to a person and how easily people can get rid of each other. Quite depressing really but I loved the performances. The chemistry between Zellweger and Zeta-Jones was incredible. They worked so well off each other and were fairly impressive in singing/dancing talents. John C. Reilly was like a huge teddy bear, a sad little man with a good heart. I loved his song, Mister Cellophane; so moving! The sets and the dance numbers were quite entertaining it was just the storyline made me feel like I needed to have a good, long clean shower afterwards. It was so messed up and it is based on the real life story of two murderers, Belva Gaertner and Beulah Annan. Argh! Sad.

It is entertaining so if you are in the mood for a dark kinda satirical musical, this one is it! Enjoy.

Chicago Trivia:

  • Budget – $45 million
  • Angelina Jolie and Madonna were considered for the role of Kelly.
  • Zellweger had no training in singing or dancing before making this film! Wowzers!
  • John Travolta turned down the role of Billy Flynn… big mistake John, big mistake!
  • There were so many scenes depicting smoking in this film,  that the Motion Picture Association of America decided to rewrite their film certification criteria to include more restrictions on the amount of cigarettes used in movies.
  • This is one of Miramax’s highest grossing films.
  • Zeta-Jones refused to wear her naturally long hair in the film because she was afraid that if it fell over her face, people would assume it wasn’t here doing all the dance and singing sequences.
  • She also started her career in musicals so this was a natural genre for her to work in. She was the best dancer/ singer in the cast! Who would have known?

Okey dokey! Next time we move to Middle Earth with Peter Jackson’s epic film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Sean AstinJoin me on an adventure like no other! Love this film.

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