Chicago [Music from the Motion Picture] [includes Bonus DVD]
Directed by Rob Marshall (Annie) and adapted for film by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters), Chicago tells the tale of two ruthless female vaudeville performers -- one past her prime, the other aspiring to stardom -- who compete for notoriety while incarcerated on the city's famed Murderers Row for violently avenging romantic betrayals. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renée Zellweger tackle the lead roles of Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart, respectively, with commendable theatrical flair, bringing the seductive musical charm of Bob Fosse's Broadway hit based on the music of John Kander and Fred Ebb to life on the big screen and on this soundtrack. Featuring several songs from both leads, alongside performances from costars Richard Gere (as the devilish lawyer Billy Flynn, who represents both women) and Queen Latifah (as conniving prison matron, Big Mama), the disc takes on a life of its own. Highlights include Zeta-Jones's smoldering rendition of "All That Jazz," Zellweger's breathy, torch-song take on "Nowadays," and Gere's enchanting "Razzle Dazzle." Talented character actor John C. Reilly -- who plays Roxie's unassuming and dimwitted hubby, Amos -- deserves kudos for his heartbreaking performance of "Mister Cellophane," as does Latifah for her sassy showstopper "When You're Good to Mama" and "Class," a comical duet with Zeta-Jones cut from the film. Adding a dash of contemporary flavor to this mesmerizing soundtrack are two songs inspired by the scandalous story: Latifah's female-affirming rap version of "Cell Block Tango (He Had It Comin')," featuring Lil' Kim and Macy Gray, and Anastacia's power-pop ditty "Love Is a Crime." From start to finish, Chicago gives listeners the old razzle-dazzle -- and them some.