Based on Bob Fosse’s classic Broadway show, this 2002 musical follows Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger), an ingénue jailed and facing execution for shooting her deceitful lover (Dominic West). Think Showgirls with jazz.
Adapted by The Greatest Showman writer Bill Condon, this has similarly shaky foundations. Roxie is a murderer at the end of the day, and it’s impossible to care about her fate. So whether viewed as a drama or a satire, either its characters or its politics are objectionable.
There is however fun to be had in the 1920s production design, showstopping song-and-dance numbers and all that jazz. Although it lacks the striking oddness of a Fosse production, the Cabaret-style cutaways are inventively staged, including a nicely designed puppet routine on ‘We Both Reached for the Gun.’
Without the vocal talents of Broadway pros, there are still solid performances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Zellweger, pouting like her life depends on it. Which, to be fair, it does.
The satirical elements are strong too, the discussion of the press’ treatment of women and the fast-paced media cycle feeling particularly prescient.
Chicago may be not be worth making a song and dance about but it’s a good show, proving that if you want a fun, safe time, you should always use a Condon.