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Musicals aren’t my favorite fare. I like Bob Fosse movies, though. Cabaret, All That Jazz, Chicago — wait a sec. Bob Fosse’s dead. He didn’t do Chicago the movie; he did Chicago on the stage. I knew there was a reason this felt like a lesser movie…

Now to say this is a lesser movie… well, it’s like saying that History of the World, Part I is a lesser comedy than Young Frankenstein. It’s unfair to compare a masterpiece to a movie that’s not great, but still good. Of course, Chicago is not the same thing people saw on Broadway, and I’m sure it was a challenge to adapt a theatrical piece to an audiovisual medium like film. Bill Condon (who also succeeded with Dreamgirls) wrote the screenplay, but I wonder how much of his work was kept in the shooting script. The acting is average, except Richard Gere is obviously having a ball, and he infects us with his joy. The only things that saved this movie were Gere’s performance, the music, and the choreography.

Rob Marshall, the director of the movie version of Chicago, is not Bob Fosse, the King of Sexy Dance. Marshall is a studio director. Not a bad director, just someone who knows where to place the camera without the movie jump-cutting: he serves his purpose. But I didn’t like the way he filmed the musical numbers, which, in my opinion, should be more music than anything else. However, the film keeps jumping in between the narrative and a character performing a musical number on a stage in front of an audience. I liked the music and dancing a lot and didn’t like it constantly being interrupted. I would have preferred straight-up song-and-dance numbers.

And that’s about it. I usually try to offer more in-depth thought than this, but Chicago is a “blah” kind of movie. Just like Marshall, the film simply serves its purpose. I was satiated and entertained, but my cup did not overfloweth, so to speak. I expected more of that wowing “razzle-dazzle” I’ve come to expect from Fosse’s material. It’s not his fault, though. While I’d recommend the movie for a rainy Sunday afternoon (when I watched it), you’re still probably better off watching a Fosse movie to see the original master at work.


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