7.2/10
184,630
1,031 user 224 critic

Chicago (2002)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Crime, Musical | 24 January 2003 (USA)
Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (book) | 2 more credits »
Popularity
1,222 ( 258)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Won 6 Oscars. Another 52 wins & 127 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Director: John Madden
Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A poet falls for a beautiful courtesan whom a jealous duke covets.

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

Director: Anthony Minghella
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe
Crash I (2004)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton
The Artist I (2011)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Stars: Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman
Crime | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

Directors: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise
Stars: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Richard Beymer
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A Mumbai teen reflects on his upbringing in the slums when he is accused of cheating on the Indian Version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Directors: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Stars: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Saurabh Shukla
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

Director: Tom Hooper
Stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter
Titanic (1997)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Rain Man (1988)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father left a fortune to his savant brother Raymond and a pittance to Charlie; they travel cross-country.

Director: Barry Levinson
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.

Director: Robert Benton
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Jane Alexander
Out of Africa (1985)
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 20th-century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Cliff Saunders ...
...
...
...
...
...
Roman Podhora ...
...
...
Robert Smith ...
Newspaper Photographer (as Rob Smith)
Sean Wayne Doyle ...
Reporter
Steve Behal ...
Prison Clerk
Robbie Rox ...
Prison Guard
...
Nickie
Edit

Storyline

Murderesses Velma Kelly (a chanteuse and tease who killed her husband and sister after finding them in bed together) and Roxie Hart (who killed her boyfriend when she discovered he wasn't going to make her a star) find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago. Written by Debpp322

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jazz age | fame | murder | jail | 1920s | See All (105) »

Taglines:

If You Can't Be Famous, Be Infamous. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Musical

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

| |

Language:

|

Release Date:

24 January 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chicago: The Musical  »

Box Office

Budget:

$45,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£113,386 (UK) (29 December 2002)

Gross:

$170,687,518 (USA) (4 September 2003)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

(mock newsreel)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Kathy Bates was director Rob Marshall's first choice to play Matron Mama Morton, but she was scheduled to film About Schmidt (2002). Queen Latifah (playing Mama in Chicago (2002)) and Kathy Bates in About Schmidt were both nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2003. See more »

Goofs

During "Cell Block Tango",as Liz twirls and lands on her partner Bernie's knee, a lock of her long hair lands on top of his head. In alternating medium/closeup shots, the lock of hair disappears/reappears on top of Bernie's head. See more »

Quotes

Billy Flynn: [singing] Razzle dazzle them and they'll never catch wise.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are written in Broadway lights. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Suburgatory: Out in the Burbs (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Tap Dance
Written by Perry Cavari
Performed by Perry Cavari
[Danced on-screen by Richard Gere]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Tuneful entertainment with a message
8 January 2003 | by (Orange, CA) – See all my reviews

"Chicago" represents the latest salvo in a mini-revival of one of Hollywood's most venerated genres: the live-action musical. Since the end of the golden age of big-budget studio song and dance extravaganzas, musicals have appeared only at irregular intervals, and most have met with mixed critical response and equally indifferent gross figures (the most recent example: Alan Parker's box-office also-ran "Evita"). But the holiday-season success of the Coen brothers' music-filled Depression comedy "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000) indicated a new song filling the Hollywood air, a notion confirmed last May with the release of "Moulin Rouge". Baz Luhrmann's phantasmagorical tale of 19th-century Parisian decadence, memorably scored with contemporary pop tunes, may not have set the summer box office on fire, but it was heaped with critical raves, won an enthusiastic cult following, and became the first musical in decades to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

"Chicago", the feature-film debut of veteran stage director / choreographer Rob Marshall, is not as radical or experimental as Luhrmann's picture. Like "Evita", it is a cinematic adaptation of a hit Broadway show, namely Bob Fosse's tale of two 1920s murderesses who milk their crimes for headline-grabbing glory. And, like Parker's film, it doesn't attempt to re-invent the musical; it's content to be a solid, well-crafted genre product that knows what audiences expect from a musical and delivers in spades.

Indeed, the story (adapted from the original musical by "Gods and Monsters" scribe Bill Condon) is the most radical thing here, following as it does the exhilarating up-and-down fame rollercoaster of two cold-blooded killers. Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a wannabe, a small-time song-and-dance girl who looks at the bright lights of the Chicago clubs and longs for her night in the spotlight. She gets it in a rather unexpected way after she kills her lover (Dominic West), a sleazy furniture salesman who'd filled her heads with lies about showbiz connections. Sent to prison, Roxie finds that the public's thirst for scandalous headlines has turned her into a celebrity, and the scared, confused young murderess transforms into a media monster, playing the people like an orchestra and turning her crime into an act of self-sacrifice. Roxie's rise to fame incurs the wrath of her one-time showbiz idol, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a Louise-Brooks-bobbed former chorine who's doing time for killing her sister and philandering hubby...and who was the number-one star of Murderess Row until Roxie sauntered in. Caught between these two vixens is Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), Chi-town's biggest celebrity lawyer, who's representing them both...and who has a few "razzle-dazzle" tricks of his own up his sleeve.

As anyone who ever saw Bob Fosse's films ("Cabaret", "STAR80") can attest, the man had a cynical streak a mile wide, so it's not hard to see why the tawdry material of "Chicago" (based on a real 1920s murder case) was attractive to him. Condon, fortunately, does not file down the story's rough edges, and his script scores some trenchant observations on the curious nature of modern celebrity. Velma and Roxie are just like Lorena Bobbitt, Kato Kaelin, and all those other small-timers who, through one stupid action or simply by being in the wrong place at the right time, become famous beyond any right they actually have to achieve such heights. And who lets such undeserved accolades come their way? Us, of course. The film's howling chorus of reporters and courtroom gawkers eagerly sucking up the latest sensational story are the on-screen stand-ins for the audience, whose appetite for scandal and thrills has become so insatiable that the unremarkable are remarked upon, the unworthy celebrated, the evil elevated.

It's a deep message for what is essentially a song-and-dance comedy, but Condon allows himself to engage its darker implications without cramming "message" down our throats. We are, after all, mainly here to see the numbers, and Marshall's expertise with choreography and music makes sure the songs (composed by "Cabaret's" John Kander and Fred Ebb) pack a satisfying punch. "Roxie" is our little killer's exhilarating ode to her impending fame, complete with her name in big red lights. "Cell Block Tango" finds Velma and a gaggle of murderesses singing about how their victims all "had it comin'", complete with some admirably sleazy choreography. Marshall's imaginative staging of "We Both Reached For The Gun", a musical press conference, has Roxie as Billy's wooden ventriloquist's dummy and the reporters as marionettes under his control. And, of course, there's a knockout closing duet for Velma and Roxie, the biting, excitingly filmed "Nowadays". I've never seen "Chicago" onstage, but if this movie captures the energy of the show, it must be one showstopper after another.

Marshall's direction is not always as assured as his staging of the musical numbers. Oddly, the film almost feels like it was shot in sequence, as Marshall's initially choppy editing and scene-pacing grows progressively more seamless as the picture goes along. This is crucial, as the numbers all take place in a sort of fantasy nightclub cut off from the main action. Still, Marshall generally gets high marks for his debut, and he is ably abetted by a top-notch technical crew. In addition to the aforementioned editing (by Martin Walsh), strong work is put forward by costume designer Colleen Atwood (who nicely recreates the sometimes anachronistically revealing dance outfits of the stage show), cinematographer Dion Beebe, and the set design crew, led by production designer John Myrhe, who are able to make their squalor a little more authentic than what one would see on a stage.

Of course, as with any musical, the lion's share of the picture's success rests on the shoulders of its performers, and while Astaire and Garland aren't losing any sleep, "Chicago"'s cast members acquit themselves surprisingly well as song-and-dance artists. Gere, slick with oily charm, displays a witty way with a lyric and a nice relaxed tap-dance style. Zeta-Jones, a dancer in London before she hit the silver screen, shows off the flashiest moves of anyone here, all the while oozing fearsome sexuality. Also turning in fine work are Queen Latifah as the corrupt warden of the women's prison and John C. Reilly as Roxie's hapless cuckold of a husband, whose "Mr. Cellophane" poignantly sums up his nowhere-man status.

As far as I'm concerned, though, this is Renee Zellweger's show all the way. For me, Zellweger's onscreen work has been wildly uneven, ranging from the agreeable "Jerry Maguire" to "Me Myself & Irene", where she seemed stunned to find herself in front of a movie camera. Here, however, her confidence is exhilarating, and as Roxie transforms from a timid criminal to a vampish media super-vixen, Zellweger projects sex, sarcasm, and sweetness (often insincerely) like nothing I've seen from her before. Her dancing is not as polished as Zeta-Jones's, but she more than holds her own, and her numbers are easily the most memorable of the film. Roxie may not be a star, but Zellweger certainly is here; I'm rooting for her to take home a Best Actress Oscar for this.

"Chicago" is not quite the masterpiece some of the early reviews have suggested. The lack of a more experienced director keeps it from being more than a top-notch screen transfer of a venerated stage work. Nevertheless, the film is funny and exciting, with plenty of memorable numbers, and it proves for sure that the success of "Moulin Rouge" wasn't a fluke.

Now...how about that Sweeney Todd movie finally?


68 of 108 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?