By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –
“A flash of leg…”
“The taste of temptation…”
“The smell of corruption…”
“And things that go bump…in the night…”
These words were part of the opening narration for the trailer of the 2002 Best Picture winner Chicago (2002). Even though this was his directorial debut, Rob Marshall somehow managed to create one of the greatest movie musicals of the 21st century. As a tribute to the legacy of Bob Fosse and the power of jazz, this film is a cinematic triumph that helped revitalize the musical after the success of Moulin Rouge! the year before. This film is definitely a high point in Hollywood’s attempt to bring back the musical.
This film features phenomenal performances from its entire cast, great production values, and memorable songs. The Academy was definitely aware of the greatness of this film since they awarded it with six wins out of 13 nominations, including the coveted Best Picture Oscar. Colleen Atwood won her first Oscar for creating costumes that are both stylish and surprisingly sexy. The real stars of this film, though, are Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger, who brought to life the murderesses who struggled to survive in 1920s Chicago. Catherine Zeta-Jones actually won the Oscar for her supporting role as Velma Kelly while Zellweger lost to Nicole Kidman for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours. 2002 was definitely a competitive year given all of the talent that received acknowledgement from the Academy at that time!
Even with all of its awards, acclaim, and accolades, this film might not be suitable for everyone. Some people might find it puzzling that a musical could deal with homicide. The film still somehow managed to receive a “Best Screenplay” nomination, though (probably because it honors the legacy of films like the 1979 film All That Jazz and the rich history of jazz itself.) The film is also (obviously) violent since most of the characters are murderesses. Nevertheless, the film is still visually stunning, and the music has been very captivating ever since the film premiered in 2002.
Chicago is a great film, but it is definitely an acquired taste. Some people might not enjoy it given all of the mature content that earned this film its PG-13 rating. Others might find the film unusual unless they are aware of its references to both American history and cinematic history. Even with those minor flaws, this film is still a brilliant adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. In fact, some critics argued that the original Broadway musical was un-filmable. Luckily, Rob Marshall knew how to adapt this film into a cinematic work of art, and he definitely deserved his Best Director nomination for directing this modern classic. Years have passed since this film premiered in 2002, but many people still enjoy its beautiful score… and all that jazz! 😉
Chicago (2002) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every musical number
Take a Drink: every time Taye Diggs (the bandleader) introduces a musical number
Drink a Shot: for every gun shot
Have some more Shots: every time the six merry murderesses sing the phrase, “He had it comin’!” during the “Cell Block Tango” number
Enjoy your favorite Drink: every time the characters sing the phrase “…and all that jazz!”