This thing was the Best Picture of 2002?? Give me a break. It's no wonder that Roger L. Simon believes the movies are going down the tubes. Not that it's not professionally done, not that it lacks a certain interest, not that it is entirely devoid of originality, but. My personal movie scale has four categories: Not Worth Watching, Worth Watching, Recommended, and Classic. To be Worth Watching the film must have at least some interesting redeeming features. For me that's a pretty low bar and most films manage to jump over it one way or another. To be Recommended it must be worthy of the attachment of my sacred honor and most films don't manage that. Classics are in a different category entirely--these are the movies that have somehow transcended the movie business and become an inherent part of the culture. That doesn't mean they're necessarily good or that they were necessarily enjoyable. Star Wars is a classic, for example, whatever one may think of it. For Chicago, I was debating in my own mind whether it was even Worth Watching. Probably, but just barely.
It's not terribly engaging, for one thing. Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Babe, and Richard Gere might appear to be an extremely unlikely trio, and appearances would not be deceiving. They all mix like oil and water but the format of this movie is such that it doesn't really matter. The movie has one really interesting new idea, to wit, intersperse the actual events occurring within the plot with a song-and-dance number which expresses what's really going on in what is, shall we say, a more honest fashion. This led to a couple of memorable scenes, such as Richard Gere literally tapdancing interspersed with Richard Gere trying hard to defend his client in court. I'm allergic to Richard Gere on general principles but he's ok in this rather gaudy role.
However, one idea repeated over and over quickly becomes boring. Sadly, the movie reaches the point where you wish it would end simply because you're bored. It's hard not to just walk out. I like the idea of musicals abstractly though I seldom like musicals concretely. It's nice that they're trying to revive the genre. But the plot is weak, the characters are not all that interesting, and the dialog has some spots that can only be characterized as...tepid. The actors did a good job singing and dancing, which I suppose is entertaining if that's your bag. It's one of those plays made into movies which still look like plays. I'm sure it's great for the Manhattan theater crowd; it just doesn't do much for the great unwashed masses like your humble author.