Brassy fun


Rated 5.0 One of the weirder quirks of American cinema in the last 30 years has been filmgoers’ willingness to suspend disbelief for killing robots from the future but not for someone stopping in the middle of the street to belt out a song.

Weirder still—once you consider the mammoth influence of MTV—it’s taken 20 years of that cultural influence before the musical was reinvented for modern tastes. But it finally has, and what a thing it is to see.

Following on the kicked-up heels of 2001’s Moulin Rouge is this season’s rousing translation of Bob Fosse’s Chicago. Staring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones as a duo of lover-killing showbiz vamps and Richard Gere as the lawyer charged with saving them from death row, Chicago melds the perfect blend between traditional Broadway musical and modern cinematic spectacle.

Director/Choreographer Rob Marshall has worked to add logic to an inherently illogical (but fun) genre. Instead of accepting musical conventions (I gotta sing!), he uses fantasies, daydreams and nightmares to bring the characters from their “normal” existence into the most rousing musical spectacles in years.

To those who have seen the stage version, it’s no surprise that the music is great. To newcomers it is a welcome shock to see the razor satire, which uses the roaring 1920s to make fun of every kind of modern Court TV/Fox News media excess. And that’s a big, brassy target.