Last Monday I was not having a good day. I don’t remember having a particularly good day at work, and when I came home the LoveFilm disc of The Class (review coming soon) infected my PlayStation 3, my primary film-watching paraphernalia, with an incurable bout of Yellow Light of Death. Fortunately, after a quick 20-minutes of mucking around with SCART leads and speakers, the back-up DVD player was up and running, but alas The Class had no intentions of playing, and to be honest I was in no mood to read subtitles after that debacle, so instead we settled down for a much more easy to watch and far more enjoyable evening of Chicago.
I’ve seen the story twice before, once on film and once on stage, and I think I preferred the small screen to the grand spectacle, though I think on second viewing it isn’t as good as I remembered. Renee Zellweger is as annoying as ever as the naive, waif-like Roxie Hart, incarcerated after killing the man she was sleeping around with (The Wire’s Dominic West). Whilst inside, she meets Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performer Velma Kelly, herself accused of murdering her sister and husband. The two compete for the favours of Matron Mama (Queen Latifah) and super smooth, silver-tongued lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere).
Gere and Latifah seem to be the only ones enjoying themselves, and why Latifah was nominated for Best Supporting Actress I’ll never know, as her performance doesn’t compare to the award winning Zeta-Jones. There’s far too much of Zellweger simpering around the stage, and she seems to have forgotten to tell her face that she’s acting for much of her performance. Her singing is fine, but she is a thoroughly over-rated actress, who in this film is also far too skinny (but then so are all the girls in this film, Latifah aside). More of Gere’s incredibly entertaining Flynn would have gone a long way, as would more screen time for John C. Reilly as Roxie’s cuckolded husband Amos, who’s solo performance of Mr. Cellophane is my personal favourite, along with the wonderfully choreographed Cell Block Tango and Flynn’s marionette manipulation of a gaggle of reporters.
So, whilst it’s not perfect and a recasting of the lead would have been greatly appreciated (though to be honest, I’m not sure who I’d cast in her place) many of the musical numbers are still great fun. Six Oscars and thirteen nominations though? Seems a little excessive.
Choose film 7/10