Monday, February 10, 2003

Went to see the much-hyped musical film Chicago on Saturday night. I think I had my expectations a bit too high for this one, though.

Oh, don't get me wrong-it's well acted and sung. Catherine Zeta-Jones and my beloved Renee Zellweger were great, and Queen Latifah and Richard Gere (especially) were surprisingly good, as well. It's energetically can tell the director was trying very hard to put that something extra into his film.

Problem is, he doesn't have a clue what "something extra" is. I really hate to make comparisons to Moulin Rouge here...the only thing the two films have in common is that they're both musicals. While Rouge was a delirious explosion of color and sound, Chicago is more down-to-earth. Another thought I had was maybe this would be what it would look like if the Coen Brothers ever made a true musical...for some reason, I was constantly reminded of Cabaret, in the way all the songs were staged...and while Cabaret is a fine film, often excellent, for Chicago to emulate it, even unconsciously, is backwards-gazing...and that's something films that are trying to resuscitate a genre just shouldn't do.

So while I was entertained, I wasn't blown away and amazed like I constantly was during Moulin Rouge! (the only other recent musical I have to compare it to) which is my problem I suppose...but there you go. There were several outstanding scenes, like Gere's courtroom set complete with tap dance, and Zelleweger's mirrored room number, but the lack of "boom" was just something I couldn't get past. So do I recommend Chicago? Sure. But go to a matinee, or wait for the DVD to come out. It might actually play better on the small screen–better suited to its small ambition.

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