Chicago

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(2002) ★★★½

Sky Movies Drama: Saturday 10 October, 2.15pm

Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones as gold-digging Jazz Babes on Death Row, squabbling over the spotlight when the media turns its glare on them. Both of them gunned down the men that did them wrong. But there can be only one star on the front page.

The two Z girls give it that old razzle-dazzle in a brash spectacular from the Roaring Twenties, the first musical to pick up a Best Picture Oscar since the heyday of the 1960s when West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and Oliver! each earned the distinction.

Chicago’s not quite in that league. But it’s a belting entertainment, a musical in Pennies From Heaven fashion (all the numbers take place inside Zellweger’s imagination). Zeta-Jones – pregnant during filming and picking up her own personal Oscar – sashays sexily through the roof-raising All That Jazz.

Zellweger’s Kewpie-doll cute as her ambitious rival Roxie Hart,hopelessly addicted to cheap publicity and instant fame. John C.Reilly as Roxie’s lunkhead husband Amos stops the show with Mr Cellophane. Pulling the strings is Richard Gere’s cynical trickster lawyer Billy Flynn, who’d do anything for five thousand dollars. It could have been very different.

Miramax were keen on Britney Spears to play Kitty Baxter (the role went to Charley’s Angel Lucy Liu), Madonna was seriously considered for the role of Velma, and John Travoltare peatedly turned down the chance to play Billy Flynn (curiously, hedeclined three of Gere’s earlier roles, too: American Gigolo, Days of Heaven, and An Officer and a Gentleman).

This cast does the business –Queen Latiffah also deserves a mention for her memorable turn as matron Mama Thornton – and indeed an end credit insists upon it: all three stars did their own singing and dancing. Still, Ginger Rogers’barnstorming 1942 comedy Roxie Hart is much funnier and, oddly, it wasn’t a musical. Imagine – Fred Astaire’s former partner did her finest work without making a song and dance about it.

Certificate: 12

Duration: 114min

IMDB – Chicago

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Other Showings Time & Date
Sky Movies Drama/Romance Sunday, 18 October at 11:45PM