A neutered adaptation of an appealingly dark musical that dispenses with the edge in favour of an ill-judged slickness of delivery. It's this too-smooth energy that makes it feels like a scented fart in a vacuum rather than the seedy burlesque of human frailty it should have been - fishnets alone do not make for wickedness. Oddly Female Trouble tells the story of muderous celebrity with greater fidelity.
Zellweger is a honking miscast. Aside from Queen Latifah and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the cast wouldn't be good enough for Broadway, so why are they good enough for Hollywood? Marshall's direction for the 'fantasy' big numbers is creative but stagey, and serves to highlight the dreariness of the 'reality' main plot and characters. It is enjoyable nevertheless and the quality of the musical numbers shines through.
Largely entertaining, but - okay, I know it's a musical - there is too much music, or rather all the numbers are too drawn out and all of a muchness...apart from the excellent Cellophane Man by the equally excellent John C Reilly. Obvious comparisons to be made with Cabaret - this fails the test. Story is too thin, everything is based on show, and Mr Gere is not Joel Grey!
By just recently watched the musical play, one of the things that the film gets absolutely right is how the vaudeville spectacle is transported into the adaptation without being gratuitous or forced. The casting is inspired and the choreography serves as an homage. Irresistible cynical fun.