By Mark Ramsey | 2002/09/17

A Film Review by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

I could hear the buzz all the way to exile!

So my good friend and spiritual disciple, Richard Gere, invited me to review his new movie-musical, Chicago. Richard may be a movie star, but he’s also everything a good monk should be: humble, ascetic, celibate, and a really good kisser.

Well I don’t know anything about writing a movie review, being a spiritual leader and all, but Richard says I might be able to do for Buddhism what Ebert did for v-neck sweaters. Say no more, buddinski!

chicago_zetajones.jpgWho cares that I haven’t seen a movie since my monks and me took in Whitesnake-a-licious Tawny Kitaen in Bachelor Party. Talk about divine rapture!

So into the theater we reverentially shuffled. I’ll tell you, whoever said “peace is in every step” never stepped into a movie theater. Gum is in every step! In Tibet, we’d never litter the path with overpriced concession debris any more than we’d share our own drinking urine with strangers.

What can I say about Chicago? Except for clunky rhyme-words like “Methuselah” and “Bamboozelah,” and except for the ratio between singing and deep dish pizza, it was fine. And by “fine” I mean highly over-rated.

Normally, my religion is kindness. But I’ll make an exception in this case. Sleep is the best meditation, and by the umpteenth production number, boy did my eyes want to meditate.

I know the Golden Globes people gave Chicago a slew of nominations, but who are you gonna believe? A pack of international junket whores and star succubae or someone who sips tea with enlightenment on a daily basis? Huh?

And what about the violence? I mean the way Richard butchered the songs! He sings like he’s got a gerbil up his ass – not that he does or ever has, I might add.

Chicago is about a celebrated murder case in the Roaring ’20s: The murderers cling to the front page like their lives depend on it, the legal chicanery feeds on them, and the publicity machine swarms over them. Sound familiar? It’s nice to know that the more perspective we gain on the O.J. Simpson murder case, the more commercially viable it becomes as a musical comedy. Sing along with me: “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit!”

chicago_renee.jpgDoes Chicago mean every stage song-and-dance-fest will be making its Great White Way to a theater near you? For Buddha’s sake, I hope not.

Living in exile means I have a lot of honorary degrees and time on my hands, so I had seen Chicago on Broadway. And I have to tell you – if you’ve seen the show, you’ve already seen the movie. Moulin Rouge may have reinvented the musical, but Chicago just UN-reinvented it. Where’s a dance number from my good friend and spiritual disciple Debbie Reynolds when you need it?

Richard tap-dances in this movie. I warned him that in Tibet the only guys tap-dancing are the eunuchs. “Speaking of guys who carry their testicles in a jar,” Richard said, “I’d like you to meet Catherine Zeta-Jones’ husband Michael Douglas.” Love is a necessity for our survival, and when you love Catherine Zeta-Jones you’re surviving in style. Even if it means you play ping-pong with your own balls.

Queen Latifah plays a prominent role in this movie. Now I’ve met virtually all the world’s royal families, but I must say I don’t recall meeting a Queen named Latifah – certainly not one whose gold crown is visible only when she smiles.

And speaking as someone who hasn’t laid eyes on a real woman since Madeleine Albright, that Renee Zelwegger is hotsie-tottsie! As my good friend and spiritual disciple Charlie Sheen says, “true happiness comes from a sense of peace – and a piece of ass.”

So remember: The purpose of our lives is to be happy. And if befriending Richard Gere is the price we pay for a little happiness, then so be it.



Photos Copyright ©2002 Miramax Films


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