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Shall We Dance?

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
:
PETER CHELSOM
Written by:
AUDREY WELLS, based on the 1997 film by Masayuki Suo
Starring: RICHARD GERE, SUSAN SARANDON, JENNIFER LOPEZ
Released by: Miramax Pictures

In Short: Got a (mid)life crisis? Peggy Lee's advice might put a skip in your step: If that's all there is, just keep on dancing...

12,000-Step Program
Ballroom Dancing as a Cure for Mid-life Crisis
By Andrew Bender

Is Richard Gere making a career of playing dancing Illinois lawyers? First he sang and danced his clients out of the pokey in Chicago, and now in Shall We Dance? he's a middle-aged estate specialist who dances his way out of a funk.

Shall We Dance? is a remake of the 1997 film of the same name, which broke U.S. box-office records for a Japanese film. In the American version, Gere's John Clark has a responsible job, a swell marriage (to Susan Sarandon, no less) and not-messed-up kids, yet he feels the emptiness that comes from being in a routine for decades. Riding the train home one night, he notices Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) gazing from the window of a ballroom dancing school and pops in. A few classes and—presto!—he's got his groove on. Even his hair looks great. Naturally, Sarandon's Beverly is suspicious.

J-Lo isn't given much to do except look beautiful and dance well, but she does both admirably. Her scenes move at their own languid pace—a torrid tango between her and Gere provides a much-needed spark.

The film's real treasure is its ensemble of smaller players to rival A Chorus Line: Stanley Tucci steals every scene as mild-mannered-office-worker by day/ballroom-dancer-on-fire by night. The grande dame Anita Gillette is the flask-swigging dance teacher, Lisa Ann Walter, Bobby Cannavale and Omar Benson Miller are a hoot as Gere's classmates, while Richard Jenkins and Nick Cannon cracked us up as a pair of hair-slicking, Simone-de-Beauvoir-quoting private eyes.

This Hollywood version just has the same central flaw: the core story is between husband and wife, yet they spend most of the movie not even attempting to communicate on any real level. Even if that dynamic rings a little false, we went home with a skip in our step—however short-lived that may be.


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