All That Jazz
Chicago – Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones star in an all swinging, all dancing extravaganza adaptation of the stage musical.
Velma Kelly is a popular stage girl with a double act. Then she kills her husband and sister and winds up in jail. Defending her case with showbiz flair and the aid of expensive lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), there is nothing she can’t get.
Roxie Hart is a Velma wannabe who shoots her unfaithful lover, joining her idol in jail. Her stunningly tragic husband Amos makes up for the humanity lacking in the two murderesses.
What Velma didn’t expect was Roxie stealing her lawyer and her slot in the newspapers.
This is a musical with the same passion as Moulin Rouge but with a completely different style. Gone is the romance and the sentimental love songs. Instead there are foot-tapping crazy numbers mainly set in Roxie’s imagination. Show-stopping moment goes to the scene in jail detailing the inmates’ crimes of passion - “he had it coming”. The bizarreness ensues as Roxie sits on Billy’s knee as an animated puppet surrounded by reporter puppets scribbling down Billy’s fabricated story for Roxie’s case. It makes a comic scene of the serious point.
Both Renee and Catherine give astounding performances; seems everyone is out to prove they can sing, following Nicole Kidman’s lead. Richard Gere is as reliable as ever, a scrupulous lawyer who manages to be strangely likeable. Don’t be expecting an amazingly detailed story; the excitement is in the songs. Overall an entertaining little ditty, especially if you sing in the shower and dance freely in your college room. However, I somehow feel there is a little something missing; the credits roll as you sit there expecting more. Perhaps not a box-office record breaker, but despite its strange medium it is a feel-good film, leaving you wanting a little more of all that jazz.
(this review appeared in Palatinate Sense magazine supplement in Durham in 2003)