"Chicago" a Surprisingly Good Time

Two weeks ago, if you told me I would go see a movie called "Chicago" and enjoy it, I would have assumed that this movie would have been a documentary about Michael Jordan's formative years in the NBA -- or at least Super Bowl XX -- but "Chicago" isn't about that.

The film adaptation of the popular play, "Chicago" is the tale of two murderesses in prohibition-era Chicago set to music. It's not a guy film. Not by any measure, but I did end up enjoying it.

Renée Zellweger plays Roxie Hart, who is put on trial for killing her lover and trying to get her husband to take the rap, when all she really wanted to do was perform on stage. While in jail, she meets Velma Kelly (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones), and the two become rivals when Hart steals Kelly's lawyer (Richard Gere) and her thunder at the same time.

The movie does a good job of interspersing the musical fantasies with the live action, something that doesn't come across as well on stage. This mixing of scenes also helps keep the movie's pacing brisk, which helps keep audiences from tuning out any parts they may deem less interesting.

While the stars are clearly Zeta-Jones and Zellweger, the supporting cast is strong, with Gere and Queen Latifah stealing their share of scenes. John C. Reilly is strong as Roxie's loyal husband Amos, but his one musical solo "Mr. Cellophane," falls flat.

Overall, "Chicago" is strongest in it's big musical numbers -- "Cell Block Tango" and "Razzle Dazzle" stand out in this regard -- and rarely leaves you wondering why you're in the theater, which may be a bigger accomplishment than the 13 Oscar nods it earned.

My Grade: A-