Chicago is a 2002 American musical satire film adapted from the satirical stage musical of the same name, exploring the themes of celebrity, scandal, media and mass manipulation and corruption in Jazz Age Chicago. The film stars Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere.
It also features Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Christine Baranski, Taye Diggs, Lucy Liu, Colm Feore, Dominic West, Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, Mya Harrison, Denise Faye and Deidre Goodwin.
Directed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, and adapted by screenwriter Bill Condon, Chicago won six Academy Awards in 2003 (and was nominated for eleven), including Best Picture. The film was critically lauded, and was the first musical to win Best Picture since Oliver! in 1969.
Chicago centers on Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger), two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago. Velma, a vaudevillian, and Roxie, a housewife, fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows
- Directed by: Rob Marshall
- Produced by: Martin Richards
- Written by: Bill Condon
- Based on: "Chicago" by John Kander & Fred Ebb
- Starring: Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly
- Music by: John Kander & Fred Ebb
- Cinematography: Dion Beebe
- Edited by: Martin Walsh
- Country: U.S.A.
- Language: English, Hungarian
- Running time: 113 minutes
- Budget: $45 million
- Box Office: $307 million
- Release date: December 27, 2002
- Distributed by: Miramax Films
In Chicago, circa 1924, naive Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) visits a nightclub called "The Onyx" where star Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) performs musical numbers. Roxie begins there an affair with Fred Casely (Dominic West), whom she believes will make her a vaudeville star. After the show, Velma is arrested for killing her husband and sister after finding them in bed together.
A month passes and Casely, when Roxie becomes too clingy for his taste, admits that he lied about his connections so she would sleep with him. Enraged, Roxie fatally shoots him with a gun and convinces her husband Amos (John C. Reilly) to take the blame, telling him she has killed a burglar and that he is likely to be released on self-defense. As he confesses to the detective, Roxie fantasizes that she is singing a song devoted to her husband ("Funny Honey"). However, when the detective brings up evidence that Roxie knew Casely and they were having an affair, Amos comes clean and Roxie furiously admits what happened and is sent to Cook County Jail. Ambitious District Attorney Harrison (Colm Feore) informs the press he intends to seek the death penalty.
Upon her arrival Roxie is sent to Murderess' Row, under the care of the corrupt Matron "Mama" Morton (Queen Latifah). There Roxie meets Velma, the afamed vaudevillian is in a cell.
During Roxie's first days at prison she learns the backstories of the other women in Murderess' Row ("Cell Block Tango"). She attempts to befriend Velma, whom she idolizes, but is rudely rebuffed.
On Morton's advice, Roxie decides to engage Velma's lawyer, the brilliant Billy Flynn (Richard Gere).
Flynn and Roxie manipulate the press at a press conference, reinventing Roxie's identity as an originally virtuous woman turned bad by the fast life of the city; she claims to have had an affair with Casely because Amos was always working, but wanted to reform herself and start a family with Amos, which made Casely jealous. The press believe the story and turn her into a tragic heroine praised by the public .
Roxie becomes an overnight sensation, which infuriates Velma as it takes away the attention from herself. Velma tries to convince Roxie to doing a double-act, replacing the sister that she murdered, but Roxie, now the more popular one of the two, snubs her like Velma originally did and the two begin a rivalry.
Roxie's fame dwindles when Kitty Baxter (Lucy Liu), a wealthy heiress, is arrested for the murder of her husband and his two lovers, and the press and Flynn pay more attention to Kitty. Roxie, to Velma's surprise, quickly steals back the fame when she pretends to be pregnant. However, Amos is ignored by the press, and Flynn, to create more symathy for Roxie, convinces Amos that the child is not his and that he should divorce Roxie in the middle of her predicament.
Roxie's fame makes her arrogant and over-confident and refuses Flynn's command to wear a very modest dress for her trial, and fires him when she believes she can win on her own. However, when she sees one of the women in Murderess' Row hanged, a Hungarian heavily implied to be innocent (Ekaterina Chtchelkanova), she realizes the brevity of the situation and re-hires Flynn.
Roxie's trial begins and Billy turns it into a media spectacle with the help of the sensationalist reports of newspaper reporter and radio personality, Mary Sunshine (Christine Baranski). Billy discredits witnesses, manipulates evidence, and even stages a reunion between Amos and Roxie when she admits that the child is his, and they publicly reconcile. The trial seems to be going in Roxie's way until Velma appears with Roxie's diary, where she reads incriminating diary entries in exchange for amnesty. Billy discredits the diary, implying that the prosecuting attorney was the one who planted the evidence. Roxie is acquitted, but her fame dies a few seconds later when a woman shoots her husband just outside the court. Flynn tells her to accept it, and admits that he tampered with her diary and gave it to Mama, who gave it to Velma, in order to both incriminate the district attorney and free two clients at once. Amos remains loyal and excited to be a father, and she cruelly rejects him and reveals her fake pregnancy, and he finally leaves her.
Roxie eventually becomes a vaudeville actress, but is very unsuccessful. Velma approaches her, implied to be just as unsuccessful, and suggests that a pair of murderesses in vaudeville would become a famous act. Roxie refuses at first, but accepts when they realize that they can perform together despite their resentment for each other.
The two stage a spectacular performance that earns them the love of the audience and the press. The film concludes with Roxie and Velma receiving a standing ovation from an enthusiastic audience, and, as flashbulbs pop, proclaiming that "We couldn't have done it without you".
- Renee Zellweger - Roxie Hart
- Catherine Zeta-Jones - Velma Kelly
- Richard Gere - Billy Flint
- Queen Latifah - Matron "Mama" Morton
- John C. Reilly - Amos Hart
- Lucy Liu - Kitty Baxter
- Taye Diggs - The Bandleader
- Colm Feore - District Attorney Harrison
- Christine Baranski - Mary Sunshine
- Dominic West - Fred Casely
- Mya Harrison - Mona
- Deidre Goodwin - June
- Denise Faye - Annie
- Ekaterine Chtchelkanova - The Hunyak
- Susan Misner - Liz
- "Overture / All That Jazz" – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Chorus
- "Funny Honey" – Renee Zellweger
- "When You're Good to Mama" - Queen Latifah
- "Cell Block Tango" – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cell Block Girls
- "All I Care About" – Richard Gere, Chorus
- "We Both Reached for the Gun" – Richard Gere, Christine Baranski, Chorus
- "Roxie" – Renee Zellweger, Chorus
- "I Can't Do It Alone" – Catherine Zeta-Jones
- "Mister Cellophane" – John C. Reilly
- "Razzle Dazzle" – Richard Gere, Chorus
- "A Tap Dance" - Instrumental
- "Class" – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah
- "Nowadays" – Renee Zellweger
- "Nowadays / Hot Honey Rag" – Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger
- "I Move On" – Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones
- "After MIdnight" - Instrumental (Danny Elfman)
- "Roxie's Suite" - Instrumental (Danny Elfman)
- "Love Is A Crime" - Anastacia
Chicago was received with critical acclaim. On the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 87% approval rating; the general consensus states: "A rousing and energetic adaptation of the Broadway musical, Chicago succeeds on the level pure spectacle, but provides a surprising level of depth and humor as well." On Metacritic, the film averaged a critical score of 82 (indicating "universal acclaim").
Tim Robey, writer for The Daily Telegraph in the United Kingdom, labeled Chicago as "The best screen musical for 30 years." He also stated that it has taken a "three-step tango for us to welcome back the movie musical as a form." Robey said "This particular Chicago makes the most prolific use it possibly can out of one specific advantage the cinema has over the stage when it comes to song and dance: it's a sustained celebration of parallel montage." Roger Ebertcalled it "Big, brassy fun".
However, other reviews claimed that there were issues with the film being too streamlined, and minor complaints were made toward Marshall's directing influences. AMC critic Sean O'Connell explains in his review of the film that "All That Jazz", "Funny Honey", and "Cell Block Tango" play out much like you'd expect them to on stage, with little enhancement (or subsequent interference) from the camera. But by the time "Razzle Dazzle" comes around, all of these concerns are diminished.
The film grossed $170,687,518 in the United States and Canada, as well $136,089,214 in other territories. Combined, the film grossed $306,403,013 worldwide, which was, at the time, the highest gross of any film never to reach #1 or #2 in the weekly box office charts in the North American markets (Canada and United States—where it peaked at #3). This record has since been outdone by Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Worldwide Chicago was the highest grossing live action musical with $306 million, a record that was then broken by Enchanted.
Chicago along with an earlier musical Moulin Rouge! is widely considered to be responsible for the re-emergence of the musical film genre. Following the success of Chicago many musical films have been released in cinemas including The Producers, Hairspray, Enchanted, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables and Sunshine on Leith, all of these, bar Enchanted and Sunshine on Leith, were adaptations of Broadway/West End stage shows (Enchanted was an original property while Sunshine on Leith was an adaptation of a Dundee Reps production).