Shall We Dance? and Japanese remake makes me want to dance

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

The Movie: Shall We Dance? is actually a remake of a 1996 Japanese film by the same name that was released to much success in America in 1997.

In the new adaptation Richard Gere plays John Clark, a man who loves his wife and his job, but feels that something is still missing.

When Gere begins to see a girl, played by Jennifer Lopez, each night on his commute home and she, “looks the way he feels on the inside,” he begins to wonder if she might be part of the key to finding what is missing.

Why you’ll love it: If you like dance movies you should see Shall We Dance? If you like great acting you should see Shall We Dance? If you like hilarious characters and slapstick you should see Shall We Dance?

I could go on, but there are so many reasons to see this movie that I couldn’t possibly name them all. Among the brightest highlights are the great characters and the great performers.

How could the acting be bad when Susan Sarandon is in the film? Okay, it’s possible, but Sarandon is sparkling and endearing as Clark’s confused and somewhat estranged wife.

The adaptation of the script is great and it preserves the adorable characters of the original including Clark’s dance class buddies and most notably Link Peterson. Link is a curious and fabulous character that is in the closet – about his ballroom dancing habits. He is also Clark’s coworker, and Stanley Tucci’s performance is amazing, as is standard for him. I think he’s one of the undiscovered geniuses of the cinema.

With Lopez in the role of the sad dance instructor Paulina the dance floor sizzles. No matter how much a person does or doesn’t like J-Lo, the woman can dance! And dance she does.

I’m a bona fide dance movie junkie and this one is now in my top five.

Why you’ll hate it: While the majority of the scripts adaptations and the majority of the acting is top-knotch, there is something amiss about Lopez’s character Paulina. Perhaps the script didn’t give Lopez much to work with, or maybe she was concentrating on her dancing more than her acting. Whatever the cause Paulina doesn’t pop, and I, like much of the audience are left wondering why John Clark would have been so intrigued by such a sullen, pouty and confusing girl.

Final notes: I adore the fact that this film is about married love. I am so sick of Hollywood depicting the initial fires of passion rather than the hot long-burning embers of a loving marriage.

The Japanese version hints of a possible affair between the lead characters, but true love and deep commitment win out in both versions of Shall We Dance?.

The original is also a bit darker as it focuses more on the lead character’s sadness and despair. But, performing a brilliant balancing act, it is also more outrageous and comical because the supporting cast is more caricature-like. 5 stars

#1.885806:2296666673.jpg:Gere_Lopez.jpg:Above: John Clark (Richard Gere) learns a new lesson from Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) in a scenes from the newly released Shall We Dance? :