Shall We Dance?

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More enjoyable than I'd expected...

Dec 8, 2006 (Updated Dec 9, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Quite funny and entertaining...

Cons:... some weak characters and plot aspects

The Bottom Line: A nice enough movie, nothing special but quite watchable


Shall We Dance is a Hollywood remake of a Japanese film of the same (or at least very similar) name, and while remakes usually disappoint even those of us who haven’t seen the original, this was quite an enjoyable film. I suppose it helped that I didn’t’ really expect much from it, but still, I wouldn’t mind seeing it again sometime, so it can’t have been that bad.

The plot basically goes along the lines of: a successful businessman who loves his family but feels that something is lacking in his life decides to join a dance class to add some zest to his life. Learning to dance does indeed make him happier but causes problems in his personal life, as he feels a bit ashamed about doing it. Other things that complicate matters are his relationship with one of the teachers, his wife’s suspicion, and a most unlikely ally. Two other men start dance class at the same time as him – one an unrepentant womaniser, the other planning his marriage. A woman practising for a dance championship, a former competitor at an international event, and a slightly alcoholic teacher all blend together into one, not really homogenous whole.

Shall We Dance sets out to be a romantic comedy with a fair amount of drama in it, and really it works quite well. Some of the music and dance sequences did leave me a bit cold but overall it’s pretty well done, and the storyline is good enough to keep the film plodding along happily. There are quite a few funny moments in the film and a few touching ones.

The Cast

John Clark (Richard Gere) is the businessman who has become bored with his life. Gere gives a good performance overall, and his character is likeable enough for you to care what happens to him.

Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) is his wife, who becomes suspicious when he starts being late all the time (and acting peculiarly). It’s an okay performance from Sarandon but her character is rarely fleshed out, and her suspicion, while an integral part of the film, doesn’t really seem to fit her character very well.

Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) – Lopez is probably the weak link in this film, but she’s not terrible. Her character is a bit boring to be honest but at least she does change from initially being a stuck up cow with egomania to a nice person. (Everyone go “aaaaaaaaaaaah”.)

Link (Stanley Tucci) – Tucci isn’t quite as good as usual here, still a few good moments but his character seems to be just a little bit too manic to take seriously (despite being, in some ways, the most tragic character of the set).

Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter) – a larger-than-life character who calls a spade a spade, Walter’s performance is very much reminiscent of a young Bette Midler – which is quite a compliment!

Miss Mitzi (Anna Gillette) – the dance teacher who can’t cope without the occasional swig from a bottle. I enjoyed Gillette’s performance, though the story could have explored her character a little more.

Chic (Bobby Carnavale) – meet Joey, only not played by Matt Le Blanc. Quite a funny performance in the shallowest role around.

Vern (Omar Miller) – practicing to lose weight for his big day, Miller’s character is likeable and on occasion pitiable.

Devine (Richard Jenkins) – the Private Investigator, Jenkins’ performance gave life to the character and this certainly helped to lift the weaker segment of the film.

Overall

“Shall We Dance” never really reaches top gear, but it cruises quite nicely in places. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t call it much above average. A lacklustre middle section not helped by the way Beverley Clark’s character was written (and to some extent, acted) let this one down a bit. Also, Lopez’s character never really engaged my sympathy at all.

So, a bit hit and miss, but all in all a pleasantly diverting movie. I’d be interested to see the original now and compare to this

Other Information

Rating: 12A / PG-13 for some language (1 use of the F word) and some sexual references.
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Peter Chelsom (who also directed Serendipity, which I loved)
Year of release: 2004

Related Links

Richard Gere - Chicago
Jennifer Lopez - Monster-in-Law, The Wedding Planner
Stanley Tucci - The Devil Wears Prada.


Top Ten Comedies
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Recommend this product? Yes

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