Shall We Dance?

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Richard Gere asks, "Shall We Dance?"

Oct 15, 2004
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The music, the dancing, the acting, the scenery...

Cons:Nada, zip, zilch...not a thing.

The Bottom Line: It's a rare thing for me to want to immediately watch a film a second time. With this one, I did.


As a parent, there's nothing that is much more fun than torturing your child. Wouldn't you agree? I clearly remember my Dad forcing me to watch the Lawrence Welk show when I was a little girl. He thought it was so much more wholesome than those titillating June Taylor dancers on the Jackie Gleason show.

I feel it's important to hold to those same standards in raising my own children. It doesn't matter that they are adults now. Why end the fun, right? That's exactly why I insisted on dragging my Son to the theater the other night for a Sneak Preview showing of what looked to be just another Romantic Comedy, Shall We Dance?. When we walked into the theater he was practically drooling over the posters of the new releases that featured flashy special effects. Well, by gosh and by golly, he was going to sit through a romcom, whether he liked it or not!

Before the show began I sat with paper and pen in hand to take notes. Hey, I'm old now and the memory isn't what it used to be. I didn't want to forget any of the important stuff. Well, I have to tell you that the paper and pen got stuffed back into my purse within moments. The story drew me in immediately with the voice of the lead, Richard Gere, narrating the story.

~~~~~

John Clark is an average guy. He works the same job, commutes on the same train to work every day, has been married to the same woman for 19 years. John is happy, but not. John's in a bit of a rut. He'd like a change, but he's not so sure what that change could be until he spots a figure in a window. He simply looks up and there she is. The look of sadness on her face as she stares blankly into the night fascinates him.

Each evening as he rides by, she is standing there. His curiosity finally gets the better of him one night and he disembarks from the train and goes in search of her, completely ignoring the fact that he has a wife and 2 children waiting for him at home. As it happens, the window is located at Miss Mitzi's Ballroom Dance School, and John finally meets the face herself, the lovely Paulina, one of the dance teachers. He also finds himself signing up for dance classes.

Every Wednesday night John and his fellow students, Vern and Chic, begin learning the art of dance. They each have a separate reason for wanting to learn. For Vern, it is the desire to lose some weight and build up his courage to propose to his girl. For Chic it is simply to meet girls. And for John, well, that's hard to say. Initially it was to meet Paulina, but it becomes something much more intense.

Also every Wednesday night, Johns' wife, Beverly, wonders where her husband is at and what or who he might be doing. And for some strange reason, he refrains from telling her....until she makes a few discovers of her own with the aid of a detective. And if you think I'm going to tell you what happens, you're all wrong.

~~~~~

Shall We Dance? has a lot of things going for it. The cast alone is impressive with Richard Gere playing John Clark, Susan Sarandon as his wife, Beverly, and Jennifer Lopez as the elusive dancer, Paulina. They get the top-billing. When all is said and done, though, the one that stands out the most is without a doubt Stanley Tucci, a co-worker of Johns'. His character, Linc, goes from being a quiet simple little guy by day to one wild dancer at night. He pulls this off brilliantly.

As tempting as it is to refer to the remainder of the cast being "in the background", that really would not apply here. They are the ones that give this film it's spark, it's appeal. Lisa Ann Walter plays Bobbie, one of the dance teachers. She's the crass, rude, "stop looking at my butt" duck that eventually becomes a lovely swan. Anita Gilette plays the owner of the dance school, Mitzi, a sweet little lady that keeps a special little bottle of "pick me up" in her locker.

Vern, played by Omar Benson Miller and Chic, played by Bobby Cannavale, are the fellow students in the story. Both the characters that they played and their performances were impressive...and a lot of fun. Richard Jenkins plays the un-named Detective that obviously gets the hots for Beverly and his sidekick, Scotty is played by Nick Cannon.

Shown briefly at the beginning of the film and once again, a bit later is Stark Sands as Johns' Son. Although his character isn't seen that often, it is when John is watching his Son dance that John realizes what he really wants. The daughter, Jenna, is played by Tamara Hope.

Shall We Dance? was directed by Peter Chelsom. Don't let the fact that he also directed the film Serendipity dissuade you from checking this one out. I can't quite put my finger on the element that was missing in that one. It could be the believable factor. The point is, he redeems himself wonderfully here.

~~~~~

The Romantic Comedy is my favorite type of film. Sure, they are usually predictable. Boy meets girl, or vice versa. They overcome all odds to achieve that perfect finish of finally hopping on a white horse together and riding off into the sunset. It happens all the time in movies. It rarely happens in real life.

The Best, and I mean really the Best, Romantic Comedies are the ones that reach beyond the normal, typical, predictable endings. They are the ones that make you sit back and think to yourself "now that's the way it should be". I found myself laughing out loud one moment, to having tears running down my face the next. It's rare to find a film like that, but it happened for me with this one.

Shall We Dance? runs for 106 minutes and it is rated PG13. I'm giving it 5 stars for the whole package. The acting is tremendous, the script is superb and the settings are perfect. The dancing...oh, the dancing...is absolutely gorgeous. The entire story itself is so very moving. I guess it's pretty obvious to say that I highly recommend it. It opens in theaters today (10/15/04). Go check it out for yourself.


**And by the way, I should note that my Son indeed survived his torment without any noticeable scarring or bruising. He even seem to be enjoying himself...go figure. If you like to see what he had to say about it, just click right here.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


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