A Prohibition-era musical about lady murderers.
Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Richard Gere
Initial Review by Bobby Schmidt
We'll start with the cast... which was phenomenal. Our theme is Best Actress, and this is pretty much a female powerhouse cast. Zellweger got the nom for Best Actress... and while she was great in the lead I think she was actually outdone by both Zetz-Jones and Queen Latifah. Zeta-Jones took home the Oscar, though I probably would give the edge to Queen Latifah for overall performance. Regardless, all three were amazing in their parts. Richard Gere was a fine flashy silver-tongued Billy Flynn. My favorite casting and character, however, was Amos as played by John C. Reilly. He got a well deserved supporting actor nomination, but unfortunately not the win. (Interesting enough, Reilly was in three of the five 2002 Best Picture Nominated movies) Taye Diggs as the Bandleader was more important than I'd imagine most people notice on a single viewing. We also got some nice scenes with Mya and Lucy Liu. I actually forgot all about Dominic West, but he stood out this time around since I just started watching The Wire for our upcoming podcast series.
But really, it was a big mix of a lot of things. The music was wonderful, the choreography was top notch, as was the costume and set designs. From Queen Latifah's headpiece, to Zellweger and Zeta-Jones' outfits to Mr. Cellophane... from the Cell Block and puppet show to the all black and mirror reflective stage... all impressive.
There were, however, some moments of drag throughout.. which actually make the movie feel longer than two hours. Also, something that always sticks with me is the court room numbers. I love the Razzle Dazzle bit, but not so much tap dance. While the payoff was great, it feels unbalanced and always leaves me a little little down as he's tapping.
I've always teetered around the B+/A- line... but honestly, I can say I adore John C. Reilly, especially the Mr. Cellophane bit, enough to give it the bump. Really, though... I love such strong female lead film that has so many great performances, visuals, and music. And while I don't think it deserved Best Picture (Gangs of New York, please)... I will say it's a incredibly well done musical and deserves its A- from me. And definitely one where I'd love to see the actually show on Broadway.