"Nine" obviously looks feeble in comparison with the movie that first inspired this musical concoction, Federico Fellini's "8 1/2 ." But let's forget Fellini. The new movie doesn't match director Rob Marshall's previous musical extravaganza, the Oscar-winning "Chicago" (adapted for the screen by Bill Condon). Both films use the technique of having the musical numbers performed as fantasies bursting from the mind of the protagonist. But whereas the songs in "Chicago" advanced the story and revealed the characters, the production numbers in "Nine" are disconnected set pieces. In addition, "Chicago" had a theme -- the desperate lengths to which people will go to achieve fame -- just as relevant now as it was when Maurine Watkins wrote the original play in 1926. There's a lot less universal appeal in the spectacle of a rich, philandering movie director awash in self-pity.
Weinstein Company / AFP
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