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Shall We Dance

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Shall We Dance

Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez
Director: Peter Chelson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: October 2004
Genres: Music, Romance

*Also starring: Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Onalee Ames, Sharon Bajer, Bobby Cannavale, Nick Cannon, Len Cariou, J.D. Crew, Anita Gillette

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

"Shall We Dance?" is not exactly a Halloween movie but it's certainly frightening to watch Jennifer Lopez, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon sidestep through ill-advised remake of an elegant, utterly delightful 1996 Japanese film with the same title that glorified ballroom dancing.

Set in Chicago, the romantic comedy revolves around John Clark (Gere), a mild-mannered, middle-aged estate lawyer who takes an elevated train to work. Coming home one day, out of the train window, he spots sad-eyed Paulina (Lopez), an exotic, alluring instructor at Miss Mitzi's Dancing School. Intrigued, he eventually gets off at Miss Mitzi's stop and enrolls for lessons. Meanwhile, back in suburbia, his concerned, loving wife (Susan Sarandon) hires a detective (Richard Jenkins) to discover why John isn't coming home after work on Wednesday nights.

Written by Audrey Wells and directed by Peter Chelsom, it's riddled with clichés, both verbal and cinematic. Like when J. Lo defines dancing as "a vertical expression of a horizontal wish."

While the main characters flounder, the supporting actors flourish - like a blowzy, brassy waitress (Lisa Ann Walter) who grabs John as a dance-contest partner, an obnoxious co-worker (Stanley Tucci) with a secret passion for sequins, a secretly gay instructor (Bobby Cannavale) and a shy African-American (Omar Benson Miller) who loses weight and finds a fiancee. Yet, amidst the idiocy, there's one brief but wonderful scene where John finally masters the sublimated desire of the torrid tango, reminding you of Gere's tap-dancing finesse in "Chicago." Obviously, Gere now loves to dance. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Shall We Dance?" is a clunky, lead-footed 4. Sit this one out and chalk it up to a misstep for everyone.

Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger

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