On a Sunday afternoon in late January 2003, yours truly and his band of merry friends (or Nerds), headed to the movie theater to see the film “Chicago.”
But convincing certain friends to go see a big screen musical wasn’t an easy task. Neither was getting to the theater that day, which turned out to be its own adventure.
“Chicago” was the film based on the famous stage-musical of the same name, and it was directed by Rom Marshall. The film stars Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C. Reilly. The plot centers on Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Zellweger), two murderers who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago.
Seems like a lifetime ago now, but “Chicago” was a big hit. Audiences loved the film and critics raved about it upon its release. The movie went on to win six Academy Awards in 2003, including Best Picture. “Chicago” became the first musical to win Best Picture since “Oliver!” won the award way back in 1968. But enough about the movie, let me tell you about the day we saw “Chicago.”
I had wanted to see the stage musical for a long time, but was never able to find tickets whenever the show came to Boston, or during any of my visits to New York. It appeared the closest I would ever get to see the famous musical would the movie adaptation of “Chicago.” But I didn’t want to go alone, and most of my friends seemed eager to see the movie.
The only friend who agreed to go with me was the then girlfriend of my bes friend Laneit. She managed to convince our other friends John and Kee, that they too should go with us. Then came her toughest job: convincing Laneit that it would be worth his time to go see “Chicago” with the rest of us.
The day of the movie, I picked was supposed to pick everyone up at Laneit’s house, the time had come to find out if he was going with us. The first person I saw was his girlfriend, and our conversation went a little something like this…
Me: Did you talk to him?
Her: Yup, he was really happy when I told him we were seeing this today.
Her: Yes. He said he’s been waiting for this to come out.
John: Did Laneit hit his head?
Me: He knows what “Chicago” is about?
Her: He knows its about a murder.
Me: But does he know its a musical?
Her: Umm, I think so.
John: So he won’t be shocked when the actors burst into song?
Her: I hope not!
When our other friend Kee arrived, he suggested he should drive since he had a bigger car. At the time, Kee was driving a Mercedes Benz, it wasn’t a new car by any means, but it was a nice roomy car. Kee however, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to driving the group, and this day would ne no different.
On the way to the General Cinema in Framingham Ma, we hit a ton of traffic near what is commonly known as the Braintree Split. This is where two major highways intercept, and at certain hours could be a real pain to get through. We lost a lot of time there, and Kee drove over the speed limit the rest of the way. Traffic was lighter once we got on route 9, and we really were making up for lost time. And then it happened.
I was in the back seat with John and Laneit’s girlfriend, so I didn’t see the giant Coca-Cola vending machine laying on its side in our lane. The other person who didn’t see it was our driver Kee, who slammed the Benz right into it. No worries though, everyone was fine, no injuries to report. The front of the car was destroyed though, and the vending machine was sadly empty.
We had to wait for the police to show up, and Kee had to fill out a bunch of paperwork. By the time that was all done, we had missed the movie. I think we ended up seeing it that Tuesday night, and I eventually saw the movie again, with my mom and grandmother.
I ended up loving “Chicago,” the cast was perfect and the idea of having most of the performances taking place in Roxy Hart’s imagination was brilliant. Even fifteen years later, this movie still holds up.
The next time I saw Kee he apologized, but he didn’t need to, it was an accident after all. He said the police found out the vending machine had fallen off a truck, and the driver hadn’t noticed. Kee’s car however, was never seen again. Guess he had it coming.