One sharp cookie of a movie. Adapted from the catchy Kander-Ebb musical that Bob Fosse brought to Broadway in 1975 (from a 1927 play by Maurine Watkins, based on actual events) - can you follow all this? Anyway, Chicago is a fun, whip-smart musical about the allure and fleetingness of fame.
Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a struggling singer who, outraged at her boyfriend's unwillingness to help her make it big, murders him. Sent to the Big House, she tackles with rival singer Velma Kelly (Catherina Zeta-Jones), who shot her own sister and husband. Both want their freedom - but above that, both want to be in the papers. Enter cynical lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a smooth talker that can work the press and the jury, who agrees to take Roxie's case and thus turns her into a media superstar overnight. A jealous Velma intermittently plots revenge.
But this isn't really about the characters, it's about the music! The style! The glitz! The glamour! And underneath it all, the satire! Nothing could be more contemporary as a story about the thirst for fame - even if murder is the only way to get it - and yet all this really happened, folks, and it happened over 70 years ago. A lot of talented people did their homework over those 7 decades - Watkins, Kander & Ebb, Fosse, and now Marshall - so it's easy to see why Chicago is as smart as it is.
The song and dance numbers are thrilling, the cast is perfect (even Gere, who finally comes to life) - their singing voices aren't dubbed! - and blah blah blah. I loved this movie. It's a perfect companion piece to Cabaret (another Kander/Ebb/Fosse concoction), and in fact I think it's a better picture. It's too bad there are so few composer/lyricist duos as good as Kander and Ebb. Otherwise we might very well have a lot more great musicals ready to be filmed.