February 5, 2023

CHICAGO (SteelBook) Twenty Years Later

CHICAGO 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray SteelBook)
2002 / 113 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😺

20 years after being indignant and resentful over its Oscar win for Best Picture over Gangs of New York, perhaps it was time to give Chicago another shot. Admittedly, I never sat through the film in its entirety - mostly snippets here & there over the years - but based on what I saw, no way was it superior to what I deemed another Scorsese masterpiece.

While my enthusiasm for Gangs of New York has waned since then, I’ve developed more of an appreciation for musicals than I used to. Though still not among my preferred genres, there have been some pretty great ones in recent years. I probably should thank my daughter, Natalie, for that. She absolutely loves modern musicals - the more fabulous, the better - which includes Chicago. So she was curious about my assessment after finally reviewing the film in its entirety.

“So what’d you think?” she enthusiastically asked the next day.

I was honest, conceding that it was ultimately more enjoyable than I once gave it credit for. The musical numbers themselves are cool and I like the fact the actors don’t actually break into song in the middle of a scene. The numbers exist as cutaway scenes outside of the setting, concurrently driving the narrative as it unfolds and performed by an impressive cast, some of whom I didn’t know could actually sing (like Richard Gere). The choreography, performances and Rob Marshall’s exuberant direction go a long way in making us forget most of these characters are terrible people.

Frederick's of Hollywood: The Musical
I also told Natalie that although Chicago is indeed a good movie, I didn’t really find it all that emotionally engaging. The film is an entertaining piece of eye & ear candy, but still didn’t deserve an Oscar over Gangs of New York…or even Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

“Yeah,” she retorted. “But did those movies have the ‘Cell Block Tango?’”

Natalie was referring to an early scene in the film where several convicted women confess to murder through song and dance. Admittedly, it's a show-stopping sequence, among the sexiest musical numbers ever produced and easily one of the film’s sultry highlights. Something tells me seeing Gandalf or Bill the Butcher perform the same number wouldn’t have been quite as visually appealing.


But regardless, we gotta give some props to Chicago. As the first live-action musical since Grease to become a genuine blockbuster, it showed there was still life in the genre. Without it, there’s a chance we never would have gotten such modern musicals as Mamma Mia!, The Greatest Showman or West Side Story

Natalie and legions of other fans will probably appreciate this attractive 20th Anniversary SteelBook. There are no new bonus features and I can’t tell you if the picture or sound are an improvement over previous Blu-rays (I’m actually kind of surprised there’s no 4K release for this one). Still, SteelBooks are the hardcover books of physical media and great for those ‘special’ movies that represent more than just another disc in your collection. 


CHICAGO IN THE SPOTLIGHT - A nearly two-and-a-half hour look back at the film, featuring interviews with most of the cast and crew.

EXTENDED MUSICAL PERFORMANCES - Of several numbers, including a few rehearsals.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - By director Rob Marshall & screenwriter Bill Condon.


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