Chicago


Year 2002

Shamefully Appearing

Catherine Zeta-Jones   as  Velma Kelly
Renée Zellweger as Roxie Hart
Richard Gere as Billy Flynn
Queen Latifah as Matron Mama Morton  
Lucy Liu as Go-to-Hell-Kitty
 
Director - Rob Marshall
Choreographer   - Rob Marshall
Screenwriter - Bill Condon  
Play Author - Maurine Watkins  

This movie won an Academy Award! It makes you wonder what message the Academy was trying to send. I think it was, "We've spent too much time and money on this, so love us out of pity or else we're failures. And Hollywood hates people who are perceived as failures. But if you love us, we can't be failures. And if we're not failures, then you'll vote for us."

This just in! You're all failures. And worse than not loving you, I don't care about you. Hate your movie, though.

Here's a quick plot summary. In the Roarin' 20s, two unrelated women murder two unrelated men as a result of "alcohol and jazz". They go to jail where their shared fast talking lawyer manipulates the press to turn them into pitiable victims. In they end they are acquitted and go on to be successes on stage.

For a refresher on the list, check rules for offensive movies.

How has this movie offended? Let me list the ways (in order):

#1 - Originally performed as a drama on stage in 1926, it actually did depict true events. Then it was made as a silent movie in 1927. Then, as a "talkie" entitled Roxie Hart in 1942. Then, in 1975 it was a musical. Finally, it's a movie again. This should tell you that things have been twisted frequently to come up with something that "works" or at least isn't perceived by those in ivory towers as being completely offensive.

The movie lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) never existed. He's supposedly a composite character. I found the composite repugnant.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is modeled after real life prisoner Belle (a.k.a. Belva) Brown Overbeck Gaertner. Belva's husband was found dead in a car. In the movie, this is changed so that Velma shoots her cheating husband and her complicent sister to make her a more sympathetic character. (How becoming a double murderer and killing a family member makes you more sympathetic is something I just don't get.)

Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) is modeled after Beulah Annan. Historically, a married Beulah shot her laundry co-worker lover when he tried to dump her. In the movie, this is changed so that she shoots her lover because he lied when he told her that he could advance her career. I'm assuming that this change is to make Roxie a more sympathetic character. (I don't get this either.)

In the movie, both women are acquitted and they end up starring on stage. In real life, they were also both acquitted. One, Velma/Belva, disappeared into obscurity. The other, Beulah/Roxie, eventually ended up in a mental hospital where she died - four years after her arrest and acquittal.

As near as I can tell the characters of "Matron Mama Morton" and "Go-to-Hell-Kitty" are neither based on real people nor are they composites. They're just invented to fill in the gaps. Apparently the story was too boring without a little punching up.

#3 - Can any one of these people act? I think so. I mean, I've seen them in other movies and thought so. But here, they're all giving it that slap-some-mustard-on-my-ham performance that should haunt them until their dying day.

#4 - Bingo! The dialogue stinks. Or maybe it's just the bad acting that makes the words seem less than utilitarian.

#7 - The worst offense is that this movie has no business being made. For starters, it's dated. It belongs in the 1920s, or at the very least in the 1970s when the story was first produced as a musical. The entertainment value is zip with bad dialogue, forgettable songs, and even worse choreography. The fact that it champions lying, adultery, and homicide as a winning combination in life and for a musical is unconscionable. If this movie never existed, the only people to "suffer" would be those who received money from it.

#8 - Did that piece of computer generated scenery just pass through somebody? Yep! Did that piece of scenery just flutter and get fuzzy? Yep! Could these people ever look like this without the help of computer enhancement? Nope! Are the special effects noticeable? All the freakin' time!

Because this one is considered to be the best film released in 2002, it just can't be left alone here. It demands special consideration! Check the link to "Chicago" versus "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" to see what I mean. (I gave "South Park" second billing because it's the home team.)

One of the worst movies ever made. If you spent the running time of this movie predicting the next sighting of Bigfoot, your time would be more productive.


All the Nasty Movies, where do they all come from? Or the main movie list.