Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Shall We Dance?

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Directed by
Written by:
AUDREY WELLS, based on the 1997 film by Masayuki Suo
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.

The kinds of movies made for foodies, including classics such as Like Water for Chocolate and newer releases like Chef and Ratatouille.

Summer is here! Protect your skin from harmful UV rays all year round with GAYOT's Top 10 Sunscreens.