LIKE ITS RESOURCEFUL protagonists, Chicago (on DVD Aug. 19) gets away with murder. The film, a dazzlingly spangled adaptation of Kander and Ebb's dark Broadway gem, is only half as biting as its source material, but it doesn't matterthis bauble is shiny and almost completely irresistible. So's the single-disc package, which is pleasurable but lacking any number of rightful extras. Call me cynical if I suggest we're probably being duped until a Chicago: The Deluxe Edition takes double-barreled aim at us.
Renée Zellweger belting out ironic ditties as a "jazz baby" murderess competing for headlines, and the legal attentions of Richard Gere's defense attorney, with fellow blood-stained vamp Catherine Zeta-Jones? There was no reason to expect this thing would work. A whiz-bang commentary track featuring director Rob Marshall and screenwriter Bill Condonwho finish each other's sentencesshows how they worked in a snazzy aesthetic tandem that invigorated everyone surrounding them. Zellweger, in particular, comes off like a giddy schoolgirl in the accompanying making-of documentary.
That same disappointing puff-piece doc teases us with just a mouth- watering taste of what is obviously extensive preproduction footage. Who wants to hear an executive gush about the film's success when we've just seen a glimpse of blazing Oscar- winner Zeta-Jones tearing it up in rehearsal? And why not add the master shots of the finished numbers, and all the cut numbers, while you're at it?
One definite bonus: Zeta-Jones harmonizing with Queen Latifah and snarling the word "twat" in the deleted number "Class." It's a laid-back lament that hints at what other fierce treasures are lying in wait on the inevitable second DVDperhaps around Christmas? STEVE WIECKING
REACHING DISC Aug. 5 is the fondly remembered 1985 John Cusack comedy The Sure Thing, which features a commentary from director Rob Reiner, as does the underrated '83 Valley Girl from Martha Coolidge (both part of an MGM '80s promotion also including The Flamingo Kid and Bright Lights, Big City). There's also a two-disc set of the original 1978 Halloween; Steve Martin in the tepid Bringing Down the House; the thoroughly unpleasant backward French crime flick Irréversible; and the bland young-teen pictures Agent Cody Banks and What a Girl Wants, making this week's pick the two-disc set of Casablanca. EDS.