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Chicago (SE)
DVD disk
02.09.2006 By: Jason Coleman
Chicago (SE) order
Director:
Rob Marshall

Actors:
Renee Zellweger
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Richard Gere

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A woman who dreams of being a star, finds herself on trial for murder and tries to find a way to beat the rap, all the while seeing everyone she meets as a full on singer and dancer. Itís a big screen version of the famous Bob Fosse stage musical.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I find it very strange that just because a film wins an Oscar for Best Picture, it has to be considered a masterpiece by everyone. And all those who differ from the popular vote are subject to ridicule. Well, I guess Iím in for it, cause CHICAGO, which won Best Picture in 2002, didnít exactly razzle-dazzle me. The movie seemed like two very different films to me. One was an interesting and realistic story of a woman who goes to jail for murder and how she tries to get off. (Reminded me of the old James Cagney films) The other (and much weaker) story involves the world as this woman sees it, which consists of everyone she meets breaking into song and dance at the drop of a hat. I will preface this by saying that Iím not exactly a fan of most movie musicals (minus WEST SIDE STORY and my personal favorite, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW), but CHICAGO felt way too much like a Broadway stage performance to me. Yes, I know it has its root there, but this is a motion picture folks, they couldíve tried to make the sets and musical numbers much more visually appealing. (It certainly didnít look like they were restricted by budget!) And besides And All That Jazz and that Razzle-Dazzle song (both of which I had heard of before), the songs werenít all that memorable to me.

As far as performances, mostly everyone here is basically just adequate. Zellweger, who seems a little out of her league here, is nothing special and Richard Gereís work here made me nostalgic for those AMERICAN GIGOLO days. Although I did like Zeta-Jonesís work here - she certainly had a spark - the one piece of work that stood out to me was that of John C. Reilly, playing Zellwegerís dim husband. He definitely stood out in both the acting and song categories for me and deserved much better then this film. So if CHICAGO is that mediocre, why did it win the Oscar, you ask? Well, the Academy has always had a history of loving long films, epics, and musicals on a grandiose scale. Itís like why FORREST GUMP beat out PULP FICTION back in 1994. Not that Gump wasnít a good film, but in a race between a sweet film about a guy who travels the globe vs. a dark and brilliant indie original, which flick did you think they were gonna pick? Song and dance, glitz and glamour aside, the end result here is that CHICAGO delivers exactly as promised; if you liked it on Broadway, youíre gonna like it here. But for all newbies and non-fans, the news from this CHICAGO is bleak. This one needed to move off the stage, as a motion picture should always be Ė in my opinion Ė exactly that, moving pictures.
THE EXTRAS
In this Collectorís Edition entitled The Razzle-Dazzle Edition, fans will find more than enough features, inside looks, and assorted extras. While those who didnít like the film may not be jumping for joy (which would include me!), all others can finally rejoice, your second coming is here! (Just say thank you for braving all this content folks!)

Disc One:

Feature Commentary (with Director Rob Marshall and Screenwriter Bill Condon): This is pretty mundane as far as a commentary goes. There is a lot of Bill telling Rob how great his stuff is and both describing the obvious Ė hereís a cross cut, a good transition, and so on. No real secrets or behind the scenes insight, but what did you expect from a commentary from a film that won the Oscar? (Oh, that Gere guyís an a-hole on the set, maybe? Yeah right!)

From Stage To Screen: The History Of Chicago (27:26): A historic and thoroughly engrossing mini-doc that starts with stories of the first stage production. Interviews with most of the lead cast, including the late great Jerry Orbach (love to see any work from him!) are gems. They also have some footage from the stage versions. At about the 16 minute mark they switch to the film, which is not as good, but it's not bad. Interesting to know that Baz Luhrmann was first approached to direct. The only omission from this otherwise entertaining featurette is that no cast from the film talks here, with the stage cast commenting instead. Itís like they were too important with other things to grace this one with their presence. (Snobs!)

Deleted Music Number Class (with optional Commentary by Director Rob Marshall and Screenwriter Bill Condon) (4:08): Not exactly the most flashy number, this one was cut after testing badly - according to the optional commentary. The guys mostly give excuses of why it wouldnít have worked anyway. Deleted for a reason, but fans will probably salivate to have another song to fawn over.

Disc Two:

Disc 2ís big draw is the Musical Performances section, where the songs for fans have been isolated and been sweetened by either extending them, showing them off in full uninterrupted form or showing them from start to finish, meaning right from rehearsal to the end result. Plus with full rehearsal footage, any fans will be on cloud 9!

ē Extended Performances (33:01): Includes Extended Performances of the numbers And All That Jazz, When Youíre Good To Mama, Cell Block Tango, We Both Reached For The Gun, Mister Cellophane, and All I Care About.

ē From Start To Finish (8:41): Really is Start to Finish, showing the many facets of various segments including Richard Gere & All I Care About, Renee Zellweger & Nowadays (which has interviews that need to go!), and Catherine Zeta-Jones & All That Jazz. Very thorough.

ē Rehearsal (14:24): Includes Rehearsals of I Canít Do It Alone, Hot Honey Rag, We Both Reached For The Gun, and Cell Block Tango. For some, this is either going to be a fascinating look at the process of making a movie musical, or for others, a tortuous experience that will have you jumping out the nearest window!

Chita Riveraís Encore (5:10): A look at Riveraís (who played the original Velma Kelly) role in the film. This is a total ass kissing session, masked as a mini-doc. After learning so much more in the History featurette from the first disc, this one feels just like it looks - filler.

An Intimate Look At Director Rob Marshall (19:41): You wanna talk ass kissing Ė if Zellweger loved director Marshall this much, she shouldíve married the guy. Is this really considered an extra?

When Liza Minnelli Became Roxie Hart (13:16): An interesting story of how for a month, Minnelli took over the role of Roxie Hart on stage. Only thing that would have made this one ever better - hearing from Liza herself. (And not just singing in an old clip!)

Academy Award-Winning Production Designer John Myhre (6:09): A look at the Production Design, helmed by John Myhre, who had never done a musical before. Strictly for fans, since itís a bit of a snoozer.

Academy Award-Winning Costume Designer Colleen Atwood (5:31): A look at Costume Design with Colleen Atwood, who has done so many great films. Again, for you fans, itís all here. (p.s. Why does Renee Zellweger, who dotes over the costumes here, whisper every time she speaks?!)

VH1 Behind The Movie: Chicago (35:49): Question. Do you really need to have this VH1 Behind the Movie Feature in a set that has this stuff, but 10 fold? (And it's not condensed like this one!) Guess you do, well here it is! Is there anything else we can get for you?
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
For all die-hard fans of either the stage version of CHICAGO or the film itself, you will go gaga over this plush and extra ridden set. It certainly lives up to its name, it will indeed Razzle-Dazzle all admirers. For all non-fans, Iím sure you will avoid this one like that dinner at your in-laws house. As for my opinion of the film itself, I have to say that a stage production can be a great thing, sometimes even a once in a lifetime event. But if you take away the theatre experience and watch it at home as is, itís gonna loose something. Itís like watching THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at home instead of in the theatre with a live audience Ė you can still talk back to the screen, but whoís gonna hear you? This CHICAGO needed to be less of a play, more of a movie.
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