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John Clark (Richard Gere) is a happily married man with two teenage children. He enjoys his life and career as a lawyer but there is something missing. Life has become routine and unexciting. On the daily train commute he notices a mysterious woman gazing out of the window at Miss Mitzi's Dance Studio. Intrigued he gets off the train to investigate further.
John signs up for the Wednesday evening beginner ballroom lessons hoping to have Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) for his teacher. Unfortunately this is not to be and John has to be happy with catching glimpses of her in another room. There are two other students in the class, Vern (Omar Benson Miller), a chubby giant hoping to lose weight and Chic (Bobby Cannavale) who thinks that by learning to dance he will be able to impress the women. The strange mix of characters brings humour to the film. The dancing may not be great at the beginning but seeing the three men learning to dance with their heavy steps and over balanced turns is worth watching. If you are a fan of ballroom dancing then you will have to wait until later in the film to see some real dancing. This comes when the three men enter a competition but even then there are also some funny moments.
John unfortunately cannot find the courage to tell his wife (Susan Sarandon) about his dancing. As a result she becomes suspicious and hires a private investigator to find out whether or not her husband is having an affair. I won't say what happens between John and Paulina as I don't want to ruin the film for anyone. What I can say is that the 2 private investigators, Devine (Richard Jenkins) and Scott (Nick Cannon) bring humour to the film.
For me although John is the main character, I think Link (Stanely Tucci) is the true star of the film. Link, a bald headed man works with Clark during the day but becomes a wild dancer at night. With his flamboyant wig and false teeth to conceal his identity, his exaggerated dance steps and over the top fake tan he certainly steals the limelight.
Shall We Dance is a feel good romantic comedy which makes you smile and laugh. The cast work well together which produces some good scenes. There are times when you may feel like shedding a tear but you will almost certainly want to laugh as well. The music is good with a mixture to suit all tastes. The film is rated 12 and contains no violence, sex or bad language which makes it an ideal mother and daughter film.
Film Only Review:
John Clark (Richard Gere) is happily married to Beverly (Susan Sarandan). Although happy though he feels that he's missing out on something in his life. Commuting across Chicago one night back home from work he passes a dance studio where a beautiful woman is gazing out of a window, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) and one night decides to join and learn ballroom dancing only this is something he hides from his wife who quickly becomes suspicious and hires a private detective convinced he's up to no good.
In the meantime along with Chic (Bobby Cannavale) and Vern (Omar Miller) who are also new students learn with the help of Paulina and Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillette) and they go from not being very good to rather good and although at the beginning John may have joined the group to just to get to meet Paulina he quickly becomes a happier, brighter and more fulfilled person. Miss Mitzi stops her drinking as her dance school becomes more prosperous and successful and Paulina finally comes to terms as to why she stopped dancing in the first place and like John also falls back in love with dancing.
The question is can this dance school produce competition winners out of John and another student Link (Stanley Tucci) who is also Johns flamboyant co worker or will the fact that John is keeping this all a secret from his wife and daughter get in the way and their marriage survive now he has a new pastime that Beverly isn't involved with?
This is a simple film, requires little brain power and I guess its all very predictable really however I really love this one! I love all the characters in it and how each one has its own little story going on. All the performances are great especially Stanley Tucci who plays Link who just made me smile whenever he was on screen! There is a real chemistry between Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez and the first time I watched it I was convinced they were going to get together (you will have to watch to find out if they do or don't!). The dancing is simply superb and Jennifer Lopez looks beautiful and can really move!
As well as this being a nice, gentle and easy to watch feel good sort of film the soundtrack is great and there's plenty of music in it but what this film has is heart and grace and for me its the perfect film to watch on a Sunday afternoon curled up in bed because it has a bit of everything in it. Love, romance, dancing, upset and a lot of laughter and so from me it really does get a huge thumbs up. I appreciate that the ending is really clear and you even get to see what happens to the characters after the story finishes! Lovely!
This film has a run time of 106 minutes which isn't too long in my humble opinion and has a rating of 12 though I'm not sure why cos there isn't any bad language or naughty scenes in it at all!
As my husband was out the other night I thought it was a good opportunity to watch one of my 'girlie' films and therefore happily settled down to watch 'Shall We Dance' starring Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. It was an immensely watchable film based on a middle aged man attempting to learn ballroom dancing.
Richard Gere plays John Clark, a successful lawyer, who realises that as he celebrates yet another birthday, he is not really happy. He does not know why and does not know what he wants, but he does realise that his life has taken on a certain monotony that is making him miserable. Casually glancing through the train window on his regular journey home from work he spots Miss Mitzi's School of Dancing and sees the enigmatic dance teacher, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring out. A little mesmerised by the sight, he keeps looking out for the school until one evening he gets off the train, ventures in and finds himself being signed up for the beginner class.
John soon discovers a new lease of life but, for some reason, does not tell his wife Beverley (Susan Sarandon). She realises that he is behaving a little differently and, fearing the worst, she hires a private detective to find out what he is up to. I don't want to say too much more about what happens but when she finds out that her rival is in fact a dance class, she is as upset and perplexed as she would have been had there been another woman!
Shall We Dance is a very easy film to watch and lasts a little over one and a half hours. There are many elements to the film and the combination of these makes it both moving and funny. The way that John Clark feels about his life is probably very reminiscent of how lots of people feel when they reach a certain age. Also the lack of communication between John and Beverley might possible resonate with a few viewers too. I did feel that both Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon were perfect for their respective roles and were both entirely believable. The one performance that I was not so keen on was Jennifer Lopez's who comes over as cold and unapproachable although this is partly the nature of her character. There are many supporting roles that are quite brilliant though.
There are also moments of pure comedy in the film too especially when the beginner class starts and Clark along with the two other members of the class take their first steps towards becoming ballroom dancers! This is made funnier by the fact that it happens to be an all male class which means that at times they have to dance cheek to cheek with each other!
There is also quite a lot of great dancing in the film (and I guess that since the advent of Strictly Come Dancing we all know a little more about ballroom dancing!). I was particularly impressed by Richard Gere who, by the end of the film, looked every part a ballroom dancer. Towards the end the story focuses on a competition and then there is quite a fiesta of dancing that I really enjoyed. This of course also means that there is some great music too.
So overall this is a very enjoyable film that is easy to watch and won't make you have to think too hard. It is fun to watch all the dancing but there are also some quite tender moments and I have to admit that I was quite moved to tears in a couple of parts (I do cry at films very easily though!).
The film has a 12 rating and is currently being sold on Amazon for £4.26 (April 2010). This is a film only review but there are a few extras if you are interested:
Behind the scenes
The music of Shall We Dance?
Pussycat Dolls 'Sway' music video
Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon star in this rather average romantic comedy that certainly has a lot more romance in it than it does comedy.
Gere plays the part of John Clarke who is an estate lawyer who is rather bored with his work and is having a mini mid life crises, he is married to Beverly, played by Susan Sarandon and the marriage has gone a little stale after a number of years together.
On his homeward journey he passes a dance studio and often he sees a curvacious beauty staring from the windows and next thing he knows he has signed up for ballroom dancing lessons. The woman he has seen is Pauline, played by Lopez.
The film suffers from a lack of chemistry between Gere and Lopez to the extent where what are meant to be significant scenes end up being rather anti climatic. The idea of the film is that in fact he is cheating on his wife by secretly taking the lessons and indeed his wife assumes he is having an affair when he arrives home late and is rather furtive however the big miss for this film is that Sarandon did not have a big enough role which is a crime given that of the main cast she is clearly the most talented of the three.
Some of the dancing is pretty good, after all that is Lopez strength however there are also some cringe worthy moments as well. The supporting cast tend to over act a bit too much and where there is meant to be comedy sometimes it falls a bit flat.
Not a totally awful film but one that could have been so much better than it actually was.
Shall We Dance? is a wonderful film that is an American motion picture film that was originally released in 2004. The film is actually a re-make of the very popular 1996 Japanese film. The film stars Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon who really to make the film exceptional and brilliant to watch. I really enjoyed this film and I think it is really good fun to watch for the whole family, bearing in mind that it is a 12.
The film is about John Clark who works far too long and feels trapped in a really dull life that makes him lose the will to live. In just one night however, his whole life might changed when he falls in love straight away with the very beautiful dance instructor who is Jennifer Lopez. It is this that inspires him to sign up for ballroom dancing and get away from his workaholic mentality. This really is a beautifully produced film and it is an exceptional story line that really is quite inspirational.
I liked how the DVD came with special features such as "Beginner's ballroom" and "The Music of Shall We Dance?" which really do add to the overall entertainment of the film. If you are not particulalry intrested in films of this sort then this film may not be for you but it does deliver a good balance between themes which I really liked. I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading!
Dance is a tricky subject to incorporate effectively in film. Al Pacino's tango in Scent of a Woman was stunning and Singin' in the Rain makes me smile like a buffoon, but not even Gregory Hines could save Tap, and I would gladly pay for the cells in my brain that remember Lambada to be cauterised. I'll have to watch Strictly Ballroom now, for even THINKING about that!
Shall We Dance? had the potential to be a camp disaster. Not only was it a film about ballroom dancing, it co-stared Jennifer Lopez. While I think she has made some interesting professional decisions, she has also squeezed out more lemons than the Jif factory. Like most males who have seen this film, I think I was on the quest for bonus points. I'd watch Richard Gere prance about for 90 minutes, she'd have to watch Rambo IV.
Curse my sentimentality, I liked the damn film! To make it worse, Queen Lemon was pretty good. So, what redeems this film and why have I watched it on at least two occasions since, BY CHOICE?
Shall We Dance? is a 2004 remake of a japanese film, staring Richard Gere as John Clark. Clark is a successful and charming lawyer, with a wonderful family. He seems to have the perfect life, but lacks something nonetheless. On the commute home one evening, he passes a run-down dance studio where he sees a dancer rehearsing.
Mesmorised by her performance, he stops in to the studio and ends up being press-ganged into a beginner's class. He finds himself in the company of two other misfits, with their own reasons for wanting to dance. His next shock is that his teacher is not the stunning performer he saw previously, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), it is the slightly sozzled Miss Mitzi, as faded as the sign that bares her name over the dance studio.
If this was a mediocre dance film, the rest of the plot would be formulaic, with Clark gradually improving in ability until he has some kind of choreographic showdown. But this isn't a film about dancing. As with the best kind of films in this genre, dance is not the subject it is the medium of the narrative. In Shall We Dance? it is what brings the characters together, it is what brings them happiness and it is the mirror that shows them the realities they are trying to hide.
For some this is about lost dreams and faded aspirations, for others it is as simple as a hatred of being overweight or a comment on sexuality. For Clark, it is about daring to want more, when what he has already is close to perfect. This gives the film its heart and soul - it takes the American Dream to its ultimate conclusion and comments on our relationships in today's society. It's a message as potently delivered as that in American Beauty except here no-one has to die.
The key cast is superb. Richard Gere is a paragon of restraint in his portrayal of Clark. When you compare it to the other lawyer role he has played recently, Billy Flynn in the 2002 film Chicago, you see the breadth he has as an actor. Lopez also delivers a restrained performance, crackling with all the hidden passion of a Tango. Susan Surandon, as Clark's wife Beverly, portrays a sense of domestic bliss when on screen with Gere. Stanley Tucci stole the show for me as Link Peterson, by day a colleague of Clark's, by night a sequinned demon of the dance-floor.
Many films claim the tagline, 'a modern fairy story'. Shall We Dance? really is. As a film about dancing, the soundtrack is very important and has been superbly put together. Elements of ballroom and latin are woven together with mood music, maintaining all the passion, humour and energy of the dancefloor. The sequence accompanied by Peter Gabriel's 'The Book of Love' will have all but the hardest hearts melt.
This is a great film to watch as a family, a couple or on your own with a big tub of ice-cream. It will make you feel good and want to go and live out some of your own dreams. And if you've never been in a dance class, you might find yourself looking for one.
---------- Product Information ----------
RRP: £17.99 (Amazon: £5.48)
Run Time: 101 minutes
Main Language: English
Available Audio Tracks: Dolby Digital 5.1
Sub Titles: Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, Greek, Icelandic, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Swedish
Hearing Impaired: English
Disc Format: DVD 9
Feature Commentary With Director Peter Chelsom
Behind The Scenes Of Shall We dance
Pussycat Dolls Sway Music Video
Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Director Peter Chelsom
John Clark is a successful Chicago lawyer who helps people draw up their wills. Happily married for 19 years with 2 nearly grown children, he has it all; the beautiful home, the perfect loving wife, good kids and a secure job. Along with a heaping helping of monotony and a bottomless, if ambiguous, pit of creative despair. Every evening as he rides the subway home, he sees a beautiful melancholy woman gazing out of the window at Miss Mitzi's School of Dance... and wonders.
It isn't long before he is looking up each evening expecting her to be there. So naturally, when she isn't in her window one evening it is just the pull John needs to drag him off the subway of his mundane existence, and into another world where dance becomes the creative expression that unchains him.
"A straight man who likes to dance around in sequins... walks a very lonely road." ~ Link
Sadly, men who want to take up something like ballroom dancing are immediately stereotyped, especially if they enter into the competitions. Ever seen a ballroom dancing competition? It's a lot like professional ice skating...only without all the frozen water and Olympian potential. Is it any wonder that the average male of any age is reluctant to learn formal dancing?
SUCH a shame too, as there is nothing quite so attractive or romantic to a woman as a good dancer! A man who can dance well is seen as a confidant Alpha personality with (obviously) plenty of physical conditioning, flexibility and grace to be Highly desirable as a potential horizontal Mambo partner. Yet, somehow, the myth persists that all men who like to dance are only romantically interested in other men! My advice......Just Dance!
At Miss Mitzi's quiet, struggling, little school ever Wednesday night, we watch John - the serious, shy, introverted attorney, Chic - the ever-so-slightly Overly macho Chicago Everyman, and Vern - a gentle, chubby, self-conscious giant. All of them are struggling to shed their own pre-conceived notions and simply revel in the expressive creativity of Dance. Bobbi, a brash, overbearing, and extremely vocal amatuer ballroom hopeful, is convinced that all three are there simply to try to win the favor of "The Princess", Paulina.
John's wistful window gazer, whom, it turns out, occasionally takes classtime from her private lessons to help Miss Mitzi out with the ballroom beginners. Inevitably, Paulina is under the same impression. Is he attracted to her? Well, come on! It IS Jennifer Lopez and he Is a a heterosexual male! Yet, he is probably more surprised (and relieved) than nearly anyone else when he realizes that he simply wants....to dance.
All of this surrepitious dancing doesn't go unnoticed however, despite all of John's efforts to hide his new hobby. His daughter's comments on his odd behavior, and lighter mood, along with his mysterious and regular absences from home, soon arouse the suspicions of his shirt-sniffing wife. Quickly, Beverly seeks out the services of Mr. Devine and Mr. Harcourt, private investigators. With every fiber of her being she wants her fears to be unfounded, Yet she just can't seem to come up with any other rational explanation. "Yeah. It's possible. It's Possible we could find your husband neck deep in potpurri investing things...Not Likely." Devine manages to deadpan.
Meanwhile, John's hobby has been discovered by, horror of horrors....a co-worker! -gasp- Link Peterson is the kind of semi-desperate office personality that annoys everyone with his sports fixation and seems to have very little else to recommend him. Imagine John's shock to find that mild-mannered Link secretly longs to be....an acclaimed Latin dancer! (They're the fella's at the dance competitions with the darkest tans, widest grins, and the tightest pants with the most sequins.) Fortunately for John, Link becomes his 'dancing buddy', the guy friend who can share all the joys and woes of this rarified pasttime, and helps to encourage him when his doubts get too heavy.
Stanley Tucci (Link) is probably my current favorite unsung hero in Hollywood today. Ok, perhaps unsung is too strong, but I still don't think he gets the automatic recognition he so richly deserves. Most of you are probably thinking...."Stanley who?" Those of you who aren't...congrats! Those of you who are...I bet if you look up his filmography you'd recognize him from something. Tucci is a comic genius, just that simple. As Link, an absolute delight and the only one who could have matched Walter in amusing vibrancy.
Finally, we come to the brass tacks. Why? Why does John dance? Why does he hide it from his family? If he loves his wife so much, why didn't he include her? If he is so proud of his children, why doesn't he allow them the opportunity to participate in his life and be proud of him too? I think they did an excellent job of offering some believable answers to these questions, which were much more of a cultural issue in the original version.
"Shall We Dance" is a wonderfully rich look at the sometimes cloaked portion of a group of people's lives. It is also a remake of the Japanese film by the same title given to us by Masayuko Suo. Director Peter Chelsom did a marvelous job of translating the settings, characters and motivations into something that non-Asian viewers can more readily identify with, while still remaining true to the original tale. He really nailed it with the thought that love of dance, like music, is universal and should be both encouraged and celebrated. Choreographer John O'Connell did an excellent job and each of the dance coaches, in my opinion, deserves just as much accolade as the actors who worked so hard to learn the dancesteps.
If you are the sort of movie-goer who can watch subtitles without getting a headache, or the sort who actually prefers foreign films...By all means, see the origional. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it and it definitely has it's own undeniable charm. It captured a fond place in my heart when I first watched it several years ago, so I was incredibly curious about this remake. Would they fiddle with it too much? Would that indefinable something that tugs at viewers be lost? Would it become jaded, tacky, overblown or underdone? Thankfully, my answer is a resounding No. Screenwriter Audrey Wells deftly earned both my gratitude and respect with this work. Well done all around even with the changes in character or storyline.
When I first finished watching the Americanized version, I began comparing the two works and turning over the merits and defects in both films. The flaws, incidentally, are too minor to mention...in either production. Initially though, I felt that only one truly important element had been left out of this tale. In Suo's version, Paulina's character tells us about the ballroom couple who inspired her when she was a little girl. She tells us how they were making a wonderful showing at the big competition in Blackpool, until they collided with another couple. This put one of them into the hospital and demolished their chances that year.
What Really struck her about the experience though was how the gentleman did his utmost to protect his partner during that terrible fall. From that moment, for her...the greatest honor lay not in winning, but in doing your best to protect your partner through good and bad. She tells us that trust, of course, is an essential element in any successfully paired dancer's life. These personal revealations, and how they affected her in more recent times are really the final piece in understanding this character. She sheds her mystery only to blossom fully as the graceful, sensitive, and reassuringly fallible person she is truly meant to be behind her seemingly icy and perfect exterior.
This theme of protection and trust plays quite a prominant role in Suo's version of 'Shall We Dance' and at first musing, I felt that this had been largely overlooked in Chelsom's rendition. Paulina's character may even suffer somewhat from this exclusion, but the more I thought on it, the more I realized that the concept was still there...perhaps even expanded a bit. It was just more subtly presented. Vern, Chic, and John are all trying to protect their life partners in some manner. Bev too trys to protect John after learning of his dancing by attempting to stay out of something he has kept private....even though it wounds and distresses her.
The lessons here...Protect your loved ones, but don't exclude them in a misguided attempt to spare them pain. And, trust your loved ones to love you...flaws and all. Don't hide or change who you are, ever. As Bobbi so eloquently sums it up for Link, "This is Latin! The judges are watching your hips not your hair! So unless that thing looks good on your @!s; Loose it!" Ok...obviously she is Not the most sensitive of souls, lol, but her blunt honesty did help Link to finally shed his inhibitions and find happiness.
And lastly...Dance. Dance for the simple joy of it. Dance freely and often. Dance with the one you love and dance like you mean it.
Shall we dance was deemed a flop by the critics but i think it worked really well. i suppose this would be classed as a rom-com but it has something extra to it that i cant put my finger on. its the story of a middle-aged man who feels he is lacking something in his life so takes up dancing lessons and soon becomes hooked and starts rediscovering himself
What a match-up of performers! Richard Gere with Susan Sarandon - very strange initially, but very successful. While we typically identify Mr. Gere with younger, more stereotypically "beautiful" actors, his pairing with Ms. Sarandon was most fitting with his role in this film.
As he attempted to connect with himself, the natural entry of Jennifer Lopez into his life was perfect. It was great to see the two characters go from one end of the spectrum to another - hoping to see it go all the way. While initially disappointing (really wanted to see them together), it was a very do-able end result.
There is also a good sountrack to the movie which really brings out the best of the scenes at certain moments in the film. The supporting cast are hilarious and add the comedy touches.
John Clarke, a lawyer, is bored with his life, which includes his marriage. In an attempt to add some colour to his life, he signs up to ballroom lessons, after seeing a beautiful dance teacher from a train window. Unfortunately, he ends up with Miss Mitzi, an elderly lady, for a teacher instead of the young and beautiful Paulina. And John does not pick up dancing techniques as quickly as he would like - and he is not helped by his equally clueless classmates. Then one day Paulina has to take John's class and although she makes it perfectly clear that she is not interested in John as anything other than a pupil, she does inspire in him a love of dance and he is soon thinking of competing in competitions. The only problem is that his abscences are noted by his wife who becomes convinced that John is having an affair. Will John be able to keep his dancing and new-found friends a secret and keep his wife happy at the same time?
This is the type of film that I would usually stay well clear off - it is light, fluffy and, to a certain extent, pointless. Moreover, I expected to dislike it because I was already aware that the film was based on a Japanese one. In my experience, American re-makes of Japanese films are always poor and I would so much rather watch the original, subtitles and cultural differences included. In this case though, I did really enjoy this film and although I won't be running out to buy it on DVD, I would watch it again if I have the chance.
I liked Richard Gere as John Clarke. To some extent, he is quite boring, but as he was supposed to be an quiet man with a tedious job, he fitted in perfectly, and there is always the odd twinkle in his eye to keep the viewers entertained. This isn't his most entertaining role by a long shot, but I felt that he gave a more genuine performance than, for example, his role in The Runaway Bride. I also enjoyed watching him dance; I believe that he trained for the role and it certainly paid off. He cuts a very elegant figure.
I was less impressed by Jennifer Lopez as Paulina. It isn't that she didn't do a good job, because she did. She just didn't have a great deal to play with and even in her most passionate moments, her acting fell a little flat. However, to a certain extent this wasn't important, because her role involved her looking gorgeous, which she does. Susan Sarandon, who plays John's wife, has much more about her as an actress. She is totally convincing as a woman who believes that her husband is having an affair, yet can still bring the odd pocket of humour into the film. Again, this isn't one of her most exciting roles, but as a secondary character, I think she brings a lot to the film.
The one character I really disliked was Stanley Tucci, who plays John's friend, Link, who is also a closet dancer. I love Tucci as a serious actor, but here he is supposed to be the clown of the film and I just found him annoying. I really think his talents are better used elsewhere, although I'm sure he had a ball playing the part. Coupled with another student dancer, Bobbie, who is equally loud and silly, I found him overbearing and the role unnecessary.
The storyline is a little hard to believe at times. John's sudden desire to meet Paulina because he sees her framed in a window needs a bit of imagination to take on board, although I suppose he is a man suddenly facing a mid-life crisis and having just faced one myself, I know stranger things can happen. However, I do think John and Paulina's relationship (I'm not telling what sort of relationship they have) could have been better explained, because it did seem to fall by the wayside. I am quite eager to see the original Japanese film, made in1996, to see how the story worked in that - I suspect that the cultural differences may not have translated well into the American version.
What I really liked about this film was the soundtrack - something that I rarely notice in a film. However, as this is a film about dance, music is a central part of the film and I loved listening to the different types of dance music - ballroom, salsa, rumba etc. The crown of the collection is a lovely song sung by Peter Gabriel, called Book of Love. This is a really haunting piece of music that I liked so much I have sounded out prices of the soundtrack on amazon, most unlike me.
I'm not really sure how to class this film. It has so much packed into it - humour, drama, dance, music - yet it doesn't obviously fit into a pigeonhole. I suppose it is an older woman's chick-flick - although the story is told from a man's point of view, I can't honestly see all that many men enjoying it (or at least not admitting to enjoying it!). Certainly anyone with an interest in dance will enjoy it - and it is clear from Strictly Come Dancing that there is a whole new audience for ballroom dancing out there.
Although it may not compare if you have already seen the Japanese version, as an easy-to-watch feel-good film, I don't think you can go far wrong with this. I would happily sit down and watch it again, although I won't be rushing out to purchase a copy, and it was certainly much better than I expected. Recommended.
I watched the film only, but the DVD with extras is available from play.com for £5.99 (including free delivery).
Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes
Ah - You can't beat a good bit of chick flick fluff. Well, you can, but on the right occasion, chick flick fluff ticks all the boxes. On this occasion boxes needing to be ticked included a bit of romance (check), music (check) a bit of humour (check) and a feel-good story (check). Bonuses include chocolate (already eaten it - damn) and chardonnay (check).
Shall We Dance certainly met my criteria (apart from not being made of chocolate). It is based on a Japanese movie of the same name, which was originally released in 1996. As far as I can tell from the trailer, they haven't really changed the story. John Clark (Richard Gere) is a successful lawyer who deals with people's wills and estates; he has a nice house and life with his beautiful, successful wife Beverley (Susan Sarandon) and two happy, well-adjusted teen-adult children. However there is something missing from John's life that he can't put his finger on. On his train journey home he keeps seeing a beautiful woman looking out the window of Miss Mitzi's dance studio.
Quite what triggers his impulsive decision to learn to dance is not really clear. There seems no unforeseen latent desire to waltz, and the attraction to the aloof, beautiful woman, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez), seems fairly superficial, especially when Susan Sarandon is looking so good, and has less of an attitude. However, we go with the flow here as John enrolls at Miss Mitzi's beginners' class, and meets two other men. Chic (Bobby Cannavale) is going because all ladies love a man who can dance and the chunky Vern (Omar Miller) is trying to lose weight and impress his fiancé. The charms of the three men seem to alarm any potential lady students so they are on their own. Their teacher Miss Mitzi (Anita Gillette) is a bit of a lush but is very enthusiastic and the guys get stuck in.
The enigma that is Paulina remains somewhat in the background, working in another room, or occasionally helping out, and it is obvious that John is intrigued by her. He is too embarrassed to tell his family (including his wife) or friends about dancing but discovers that his colleague Link (Stanley Tucci) is also a keen dancer and concealing it. Also practicing at Miss Mitzi's is brassy Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter). With no tact or taste, Bobbie is loud and OTT and is nicknamed the Bobbinator by the men, who are all too scared to dance with her.
Once, when Paulina was upset because Bobbie had spilt spaghetti on her coat, John offered to take her for a Chinese. Paulina made it clear she didn't socialize with students and that if he was coming to class to get with her he was mistaken. Taken aback, John decides to stop going, but then realises that he enjoys dancing and the company of his friends that he has made there. The film continues on with some excellent dance scenes, some comedy 'buddy' scenes and the friendship grows with Paulina, who realises she misjudged John. Meanwhile, Beverley thinks her husband maybe having an affair and hires a private detective
The cast are all good; although Sarandon and Tucci are under used for their talents they give great performances. Lopez is acceptable, but is not as big a role as I imagined, she is not challenged. Gere heads up the movie very well, Cannavale, Gillette and Miller do some good comic turns although they, and indeed most of the cast, are upstaged by Walter's Bobbie. Director Peter Chelsom does a good job as far as I can see; I would be interested to see the original Japanese version as I suspect this may have a little bit more charm than the re-make.
The music is, of course, ballroom and Latin style numbers. No one piece really stands out.
I really enjoyed this film, it is light, fun and has that all important feel-good factor, and made an hour and three-quarters fly by. I would think this is one of the better films of its genre, although a passing interest in dancing would probably help, I don't think this is necessary but obviously isn't going to appeal to everybody. The film got a 12 certificate in the UK; there is no violence, sex or bad language.
I watched this at a friends', so didn't see the extras. I understand that along with the usual director's commentary, there are a few featurettes, some deleted scenes and a Pussycat Dolls video.
This is another Hollywood remake of a far better Japanese film. It's not something I would choose to watch and I was forced to watch this in the company of others but this film wasn't totally as bad as I thought it would be. There were a few funny scenes that provided a nice contrast against certain moments of poignancy evoked by the depicted lives of the main characters.
The original 1996 Japanese version was a great success in its native land. This was largely due to its socio-cultural significance where the act of taking secret dance lessons by a husband would be regarded by the wife as a form of betrayal. In the Hollywood remake this subtle but crucial theme is absent. Instead the wife is led to suspect that her husband is having an affair on account of his altered behaviour and late night arrivals from the office. There is therefore essentially no reason for the secrecy surrounding the husbands dance lessons.
Richard Gere playing the part of John Clarke and gives a reasonable performance in the way that most Gere fans will love. He is an estate lawyer perturbed by a touch of the old existential angst and the prospect of approaching middle age. He is slightly bored with his job and somewhat unfulfilled with his long term marriage to Beverly (Susan Sarandon). As he takes daily commute home from work by train he ponders where life's taking him. Homeward bound journeys from the office take him each evening past the ballroom dance studio of Miss Mitzi. On one trip Clarke notices the curvaceous silhouette of Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) standing in the upper window and staring out melancholically into the dark evening. Repetitions of this seductive vision on subsequent journeys home lead him eventually to sign up for dance lessons.
If you're hoping that Gere gets his hands on J-Lo's buns then you'll be disappointed. The chemistry between the principle characters never really comes off in the movie and their central dance scene together never reaches a climax. Maybe it was better that way. Lopez as the sultry dance instructor is not bad when she takes to the dance floor. Her dancing isn't that bad either but she doesn't really inspire you to get up and tango. Susan Sarandon is wasted in this film. A more pivotal role and a better part in the movie might have rescued this film from its mediocrity. Instead of just having it out like normal couples Sarandon is relegated to a ridiculous side plot involving the hiring of a silly private detective to see what her husbands up to. It is a useless and pointless addition to the overall storyline.
The film does manage to present a number of comical as well as poignant moments. There are some comedy training sessions in the dance studio that seem improvised and this works quite well but other scenes tend to go over the top and will cause many to cringe. Stanley Tucci plays a clandestine Latino dancer, but his dance moves are clownish and exaggerated. He over acts his comedy role and contributes to the more absurd moments in the film as does the 'over the top' Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter) who becomes Gere's dance partner. The overweight Vern (Omar Benson Miller) contributes one of the better roles. He is trying to lose a few pounds to impress his girlfriend while Chic (Bobby Cannavale) is only there for the girls and to improve his technique between the sheets.
Not a buy but probably worth renting if you're a Gere/Lopez watcher or can't find nothing else. Better still seek out the superior original version.
Starring: Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Bobby Canavale, Nick Cannon, Richard Jenkins, Mya, Lisa Ann Walter, Deborah Yates
Director: Peter Chelsom
Written By: Audrey Wells
Distributed by: Miramax
Running time: 106 mins
Shall we dance or (how to deal with a mid life crisis without causing too much harm).Gere plays a man who loves his wife and family and seems to have everything, yet has an itch he can't scratch. On impulse, he enrolls (for what seems to be the wrong reasons)for dancing leasons.As he learns to shuffle around the dance floor, he makes friends and finally gets to scratch that itch. Perhaps the best lines go to his screen wife as she describes her interpretation of marriage to a private detective whom she has hired. With a bit of an insight into the real dirt that goes on in dancing it's a film with a reason and a good end.
Last week I was lucky enough to win tickets to the London premiere of Shall We Dance in the presence of Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. Not only were they tickets for the premiere but included a champagne dinner for two at a nearby club in Leicester Square so, of course, I jumped at the chance. Im not a big film goer nor am I a particular fan of Gere or Lopez, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. And since Id had such a once in a lifetime opportunity, I thought the least I could do was review the film, although Ive never attempted a film review before! Unfortunately, Jennifer Lopez couldnt attend the premiere to illness but Richard Gere was there along with one of the co- stars Anita Gillete who plays the owner of Miss Mitzis Dance Studio
The story revolves around a frustrated middle aged, fairly successful lawyer, John Clark (Gere), who turns to ballroom dancing after passing a dance studio on the way home from work each night. The attraction being not so much the ballroom and Latin American dancing but the beautiful graceful woman that he sees in the window each evening practicing, Paulina (Jennifer Lopez).
The opening lesson sees the handsome John Clark come together in a room with two hapless lads who also want to learn to dance Chic is a bit of a wide boy who believes hell pull more chicks if he can dance, as everyone knows women like men who can dance. Vern, is an incredibly tall, overweight, black guy whose fiancé tells him that learning to dance will help him lose a few pounds. I think the moral here is about unexpected and unlucky friendships through shared interests. Some of the comedy elements verge on slapstick and I actually quite enjoyed this.
There are some interesting characters learning to dance at the same time, and the central thread of the story is about John Clarks clandestine dance lessons and the progress of the students themselves, although there are weak threads that extend to the students lives beyond the classes. John Clarks wife Beverly, is played by Susan Sarandon and she didnt feature in the film nearly enough in my opinion which is a bit of a shame as I think she is an extremely good actress. My favourite character is Link played by Stanley Tucci. It turns out that Link is a colleague of John Clarks but he is so secretive about his furtive dancing activity that the bald Link, wears a wig and false teeth to hide his true identity.
The storyline concentrates on the preparation and build up to the clueless students becoming passable, or even good dancers training for a big Chicago dance competition. The sub plot involves dealing with John Clarks yearning for Paulina the dance teacher that first inspired him to learn to dance and his dealing with this issue and working out what he really wants from his life.
The film is adapted from an original screenplay and Japanese film. One of the things that the Director did to this movie was to decrease the length of it. Im not sure this was the right thing to do and feel it could backfire on him. The general underlying principles about exploring middle age, stable, but dry relationships and overall human sensitivity are very pertinent in this film. However, there is not enough time to focus on these issues without detracting from the fascinating dance element. This weakens the story substantially.
My opinion if you want a light hearted, amusing, feel good film then this may be worth looking out for. I wouldnt be running to the cinema to see it upon immediate release. One of the things that really irritated me about this movie was the lack of substance to the part of Paulina, played by Jennifer Lopez. Everyone has their own opinion about whether J-Lo can or cant act. However, in this she isnt really given the chance, although she does deliver the best line. Her characters costumes are literally sculpted to her body, designed to reveal her flat muscular stomach, and highlight the curvature of her breasts and buttocks. Im sure if youre a guy and you like here, then youll be in seventh heaven.
The best line from the film Paulina, breathless, heaving bosoms, demonstrating the rumba to John Clark (Richard Gere) . the rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal wish. And it gets more explicit. Oh boy!
As one might expect from a film focusing heavily on dance, music is quite extensively used in this movie. Its quite an eclectic mix from Shall we Dance and Happy Feet to Moon River and Andelucia. During some scenes of a dancing competition the music is delivered by an orchestra and that adds some atmospheric value. Its not the best soundtrack in the world, but certainly one that has your feet tapping and provides a general feel good factor.
So overall, its an average film, about an average guy. Its light entertainment at best, but I guess if youre a Richard Gere or Jennifer Lopez film, it will hold wider appeal.
Directed by Peter Chesholm
The cast (central characters only)
Running time 1 hr, 59 mins
As this is my first film review, I would welcome constructive comments about what to include, not to include should I ever decide to do one again. I'm also not sure that this is the correct category on dooyoo. If it isn't if someone could point me in the right direction I'd be very grateful.
© Christina ;-) x