Roadside Attractions
Animated shots of defendants in 1968 conspiracy trial - Bobby Seale, left, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin - in "Chicago 10."
CHICAGO 10 — ** 1/2 — Docudrama about the 1968 Chicago riots; featuring the voices of Hank Azaria, Nick Nolte and others; rated R (profanity, violence, drugs, slurs, vulgarity, brief nudity, brief sex)

"Chicago 10" tries to re-create scenes from the deadly 1968 rioting in Illinois, which occurred as part of some Vietnam War protests and because of general unrest during the divisive Democratic National Convention.

Not a lot of footage exists from those incidents, or the subsequent trial of some of the supposed instigators, so filmmaker Brett Morgen had to make do with the existing archival pieces.

And to fill in some blanks, Morgen uses computer-generated animation and voice actors. It's a pretty innovative solution, though sometimes it works to the detriment of the film.

Frankly, the animation in the extensive courtroom scenes looks shoddy, almost like snippets from a cheaply made video game.

Despite the number in its title, this odd but sometimes entertaining documentary/docudrama hybrid looks at seven defendants who were accused of organizing the protests and orchestrating the resulting mayhem.

They include Abbie Hoffman (voiced by Hank Azaria), Jerry Rubin (the voice of Mark Ruffalo) and Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale (Jeffrey Wright).

Representing most of the accused is attorney William Kunstler (Liev Schreiber), who not only has to face prosecutor Thomas Foran (Nick Nolte) but a seemingly biased judge, Julius Hoffman (Roy Scheider).

Sadly, this was one of Scheider's last performances, and it's not one of his best. As the one of the unrelated Hoffmans, he's over the top, and so is Azaria, who performs as multiple characters on TV's "The Simpsons."

His voice performance as the other Hoffman, an infamous rabble-rouser, has a very goofy, cartoonish quality. So it's hard to take those parts of the film seriously.

Of course, it seems as if Morgen ("The Kid Stays in the Picture") was trying to make a courtroom comedy, so it's not completely their fault.

"Chicago 10" is rated R for strong sexual language (profanity, slang and other suggestive talk), scenes of rioting and other violence (police abuses), drug content and references (marijuana), racial and other derogatory slurs, and some sexually explicit imagery (nude drawings and artwork). Running time: 100 minutes.


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