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New On Video: 'Chicago'

Also New: Evans' 'Kid Stays In The Picture'

POSTED: 3:03 p.m. EDT August 25, 2003

'Chicago' (PG-13) Get ready to get "all that jazzed" and then some with the high-energy Oscar-winning musical "Chicago," a dazzling, smart and sexy big screen adaptation of the late Bob Fosse's 1975 Broadway smash that took Best Picture and five other Oscars at this year's Academy Awards.

Driven by the brilliantly executed musical numbers by John Kander and Fred Ebb, the film follows the exploits of 1920s Chicago showgirls Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), both imprisoned for crimes of passion: Roxie's there for shooting her boyfriend (Dominic West) after she learns he has no connections to showbiz; and Velma killed her husband and sister -- who were having an affair -- but has no recollection of it.

Enter the slick Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), a smooth-talking lawyer who uses the Chicago media to not only draw sympathy for his clients, but to make them stars because of their infamy. But is there room enough for two? Smart, sassy and snobby, Velma doesn't like sharing the spotlight with new kid on the prison block Roxie, which puts Flynn's finesse with his clients, media and general public to the test.

Thanks to an enormously talented ensemble cast, "Chicago" hits it big on all levels. Not only can Zellweger, Gere and Zeta-Jones act -- they have great voices, to boot. But the real star of the movie is director Rob Marshall, who makes seamless transitions from the dialogue to musical numbers and back again. With Marshall at the helm, the movie's a visual wonder, from its dazzling choreography, lavish sets and jazzed-up period costumes.

The songs, of course, provide the biggest highlights of the film, as scorching numbers like "Cell Block Tango" (which visually feels like Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock") and "All That Jazz" heat up the proceedings, but layered underneath is a biting social commentary on the media's feeding frenzy when celebrities are charged with crimes.

Sound familiar? Fosse, Ebb and Kander were onto something big all those years ago -- and their vision through the perceptive eyes of Marshall is going to be a classic for years to come.

DVD Features: For a Best Picture Oscar-winner, the bonus features are surprisingly skimpy on the DVD version of "Chicago." Apart from commentary by Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condon, the only other notable feature is a deleted scene where Queen Latifah (who's lovable as the prison's easily bribed warden Mama Morton) and Zeta-Jones sing "Class," a saucy tune cut from the film but featured on its soundtrack. (Miramax Home Entertainment)

'The Kid Stays In The Picture' (R) Based on film honcho Robert Evans (interview) hit 1994 autobiography of the same name, "The Kid Stays in the Picture" oddly feels more like a book of moving pictures than it does a film. A documentary, the film tells the life story of actor-turned- Paramount Pictures chief at 34 Evans, who oversaw the studio while such classics as "The Godfather," "Chinatown," "Rosemary's Baby" dominated the screen in the late '60s and early '70s.

Robert EvansLike his book, Evans (pictured, left) is not afraid to detail the highest of highs (Oscar glory) and lowest of lows (drug troubles, failed marriages) in his life and his career. Evans narrates the film, which is an odd combination of photo stills and video images that move in and out of the frame as Evans combs over the details of his life.

Since Evans is a guy who prides himself on break the rules, some viewers may be put off by the movie mogul's bursting self-confidence. The movie mostly appeals to fans who love to delve into the inside dealings of Hollywood.

DVD Features: Audio commentary by director Brett Morgan and Nannette Burstein; a gag reel and several documentaries featuring friends' takes on Evans. (Warner Bros. Home Video)

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