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Home arrow Reviews arrow DVD Review arrow Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition Friday, 27 January 2006
Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition   Print  E-mail 
Contributed by Brent Simon  
Friday, 13 January 2006

Chicagoís reputation ó and indeed, its path to the Oscars ó was cemented by its brawny, $170 million domestic gross (coupled with another $135 million overseas). It all began, of course, in 2001, when Baz Luhrmannís Moulin Rogue razzle-dazzled its way into the hearts of film critics, if not exactly mainstream audiences. The movie musical was back, the reportage said. It just took filmgoers a year or so to pay heed.

In all honesty, director Rob Marshallís Chicago was a film that didnít wow me in theaters. I thought it the lesser of its many influences, and competently staged but not deserving of the hosannas that followed it around, and certainly not its Best Picture statuette. The peddling power of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, though, is a thing to behold come awards season, and thereís no denying that they ó and their marketing team ó helped create the aura of an event: Chicago was dynamic, brassy, accessible and fun. Not loving it became sort of like passing on the vegan dishes at a Hare Krishna potluck.

The two-disc set Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Edition arrives on DVD, then, to help either repair or confirm the filmís reputation, depending on your point-of-view. Centering on Roxie Hart (Renťe Zellweger), a dame jailed for bumping off her two-timing boyfriend and then parlaying said manslaughter into 1920s media fame, the film does admittedly have a lot to say about image manipulation and the American obsession with celebrity, particularly when Hartís renown ebbs with the arrival of a newer, glitzier man-killer, Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Slick-talking lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) takes their cases, and the fur flies in an array of energetically staged song-and-dance numbers. Bill Condonís script, meanwhile, based on John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosseís stage musical of the same name, allows for breezy-fun characterizations, and the cast all have a blast.

Watching the movie again, I connected with more of its charms. Chicago: The Razzle-Dazzle Editionís abundance of supplemental extras certainly doesnít hurt its case, either. On the first disc are audio commentaries from Marshall and Condon, plus a deleted musical number, ďClass,Ē performed by Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah. There is also exclusive new bonus material that comprises From Stage to Screen: The History of Chicago. The second disc includes extended musical performances, an encore with Chita Rivera, and separate spotlight interviews with Academy Award-winning production designer and costume designer John Myhre and Colleen Atwood, respectively. Thereís also the inclusion of the self-promotional VH1 special Behind the Movie: Chicago, and a collection of other featurettes looking at Marshall and Liza Minnelliís turn as Roxie Hart on stage. All in all, this version of Chicago wins itself an acquittal, if only moderately so. B- (Movie) A- (Disc)

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