January 27, 2003 12:00 PM

Original Soundtrack (Epic)

Kander and Ebb’s 1975 musical about two murderous sirens and a shyster in the Windy City of the 1920s is blowing the doors off movie theaters. Given the film’s visual razzmatazz, though, the difference between it and the soundtrack is like the difference between a vacation and a postcard. Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones are adequate vocally (though Richard Gere doesn’t so much sing his lines as smirk them), but the problem is John Kander’s vaudeville-style Dixieland jazz music. Perfect in context, it serves the punch lines but doesn’t make you hum. Best are the bawdy “When You’re Good to Mama,” sung by Queen Latifah, and the pretty ballad “Nowadays,” an ode to sin.

BOTTOM LINE: No substitute for the movie

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