Chicago Movie Poster Image




Oscar-winning satire all about the razzle-dazzle.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • Review Date: August 18, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Glorifies the "merry murderesses," but in a very clever, satirical way -- too clever for young audiences to grasp. Velma and Roxy are obsessed with fame and kill without remorse. Billy is the epitome of a slimy lawyer out for himself. The press are easily misled. However, the cast is racially diverse and Queen Latifah plays a strong female character.


One song is about murders commited that landed women in the slammer. One woman says she killed her husband simply because he popped his gum too loudly. An innocent woman is hanged, shown in shadow.


Roxy claims she was being raped when she shot her lover, then faked a pregnancy. We see her scantily clad in bed. Dancers wear very little for most musical numbers.


Strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and a lot of smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Academy Award winner has some strong language and sexual references and situations, briefly explicit. A possible pregnancy by a lover is an element of the plot. All characters are amoral, even sleazy in this satire. Lots and lots of smoking. The "merry murderesses" discuss their killings without remorse. The one innocent character is hanged, shown in shadow.

What's the story?

In CHICAGO, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a former chorus girl turned unhappy wife who has gone from sleeping around ("they buy you dinner") to fooling around ("they don't"). She has an affair with a furniture salesman who promises to introduce her to a guy who works in a nightclub. She wants to be a star. But when the guy dumps her and tells her he never knew anyone at the nightclub, she shoots him. In jail, she meets a cadre of women who killed the men in their lives. They explain how it all happened in "He Had It Coming." Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta Jones) is a headliner who shot her sister and boyfriend when she found them together. She is the jail's biggest star until lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) takes Roxie's case and sells her to the media as an innocent bride corrupted by jazz. The ultimate showbiz razzle-dazzle is the trial, complete with costumes, props, script, and 12 very important audience members -- the jury.

Is it any good?


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.

But 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the rocky relationship between Velma and Roxy. Why do they agree to work together in the end? They can also discuss the movie's portrayal of the press as marionettes controlled by the slimy lawyer. Do you think the press are savvier today or not? Are there still people today that would do anything for fame and recognition?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 27, 2002
DVD release date:August 19, 2003
Cast:Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere
Director:Rob Marshall
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sexual content and dialogue, violence and thematic elements

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 11 years old January 26, 2011

Good, but iffy

I loved this movie. It was a little iffy, and the begining of this movie I had to skip over. But otherwise, I loved it!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Kid, 12 years old June 6, 2009

Must see!!!!

I first saw this when i was ten!!! Loved it, even went to see it on broad way!!!!
Kid, 10 years old January 23, 2010

A Bit Strong, But Fantastic

This Musical is a great, but dark, portrayal of murder, fame and 1920s Chicago. Very good and not too adult - the biggest concern would have to be the swearing/adult themes
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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