Picks and Pans Review: Chicago

updated 01/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/13/2003 AT 01:00 AM EST

Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere

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One of the big, splashy numbers in this irresistible musical has a publicity-savvy criminal lawyer (Gere) singing that the key to winning over a jury is to "give 'em the old razzle-dazzle." More than any other movie musical in decades, the wonderfully cynical Chicago—its heroine (Zellweger) finds fame and fortune upon murdering her lover in prohibition-era Chicago—delivers razzle-dazzle spun perfectly for modern sensibilities.

The difference here is that the songs and narrative weave together seamlessly; the story continues even as songs are being belted out. While neither Zellweger nor Gere have superior singing voices or terpsichorean skills, they try their best and give likable, effective performances. As for the slinky Zeta-Jones, who can sing and dance, she's pure hubba-hubba. (PG-13)

BOTTOM LINE: Our kind of town

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