Parents' Guide to

Chicago

By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Oscar-winning satire all about the razzle-dazzle.

Movie PG-13 2002 113 minutes
Chicago Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 19 parent reviews

age 12+

Ever entertaining, and ever relevant

Chicago deserves its spot in the pantheon of modern film musicals. The Kander-and-Ebb score is catchy and iconic - there simply isn't a single dud in the entire picture. The choreography is top-notch, and the social satire is as prickly as it was when this great show first premiered on Broadway in 1975. I worked behind the scenes in my high school's production of Chicago. I was instantly impressed by how deep the show is. The lyrics are pitch-perfect, an incredibly sharp and humorous send-up of celebrity culture, sex, dishonesty, crime, justice (and the lack thereof) and prejudice, and the media's complicity with injustice, set against the glamorous, decadent backdrop of the Roaring 20s. The jazz and vaudeville inspired music is genius, nailing the "razzle dazzle" of Roxie and Velma's public performance of innocence, versus the reality. This is a better fit for mature kids who can understand irony and satire. Of course, none of the characters are anywhere near role models, but they're not supposed to be, and your kids should be able to understand that if you want to watch this movie with them. They should also be old enough to handle a LOT of sexuality and violence portrayed in an irreverent way. This brilliant film is more than just razzle-dazzle: it offers a lot of fodder for conversation.
age 14+

OH YES

I love Chicago. Really the only bad thing is the sex scene withing the first 6 minutes of the movie. There is a little bit of language but nothing worse than a marvel movie. There is smoking and booze but it is set in the 20's.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (19 ):
Kids say (57 ):

The razzle does indeed dazzle and the musical numbers are sensational. Zellweger is in fine form. If she is not quite up to the role, perhaps she doesn't have it in her to portray such a trashy, despicable character. Zeta Jones, with a Lulu haircut and legs made for sparkly tights, is mesmerizingly beautiful and alone has all the razzle-dazzle this movie needs. Gere clearly enjoys his return to his musical theater roots and handles the musical numbers well, especially his big tap dance. Queen Latifah as the prison warden has a lot of snap and verve and a fabulous voice. But none are a match for the real dancers in the chorus.

Director/choreographer Rob Marshall produces slinky dance numbers and sinuous camera work. The musical numbers are staged as nightclub performances and separate from the action to serve as counterpoint and commentary, illuminating the story and underscoring the theme of show over substance. Perhaps it is show instead of substance, or even show to make us forget that there is no substance. One reason it feels so empty at the core is that the story does not have a single likeable character, honest statement, unselfish motive, or generous gesture.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 27, 2002
  • On DVD or streaming: August 19, 2003
  • Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones , Renee Zellweger , Richard Gere
  • Director: Rob Marshall
  • Inclusion Information: Gay directors, Female actors
  • Studio: Miramax
  • Genre: Musical
  • Run time: 113 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements
  • Last updated: January 26, 2024

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