Masayuki Suo's Shall We Dance? became a favorite of moviegoers around the world when it opened in 1996. Thus, as they have done with so many acclaimed foreign films, American filmmakers have tried adapting it for U.S. audiences and come up with a version that is vastly inferior.
Richard Gere stars as John Clark, a father and a husband who finds his life has gone stale. He's lacking passion for anything, including his marriage. When he sees a beautiful woman (Jennifer Lopez) staring sadly out of a dance studio window, he's lured to set foot on the dance floor for the first time. There, he discovers that her name is Paulina, and she's an instructor with a troubled past. Motivated by his weaknesses, he enrolls in the class just to be near her. At home, his wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Tamara Hope) grow suspicious of his long evening absences, while he steps carefully around the floor with his classmates (including Stanley Tucci, Bobby Cannavale, and Omar Miller).
And so the gear wheels of the plot begin to turn, awkwardly and, at times, predictably. Will John give in to his temptation and run off with the sexy instructor? Will he compete in the ballroom dance championships? Will his wife find out about his new obsession? Is his marriage doomed?
While Peter Chelsom's version of the film is strikingly different in tone and pace than the original, it has charms all its own, especially in the chemistry of the ensemble cast. But while it earns some cheers and some laughs, it remains a comedy trifle, one that tries too hard to please us. The cast attempt to merge the subtle flourishes of the original with the flamboyant, exaggerated comedy of Strictly Ballroom, and they frequently lose their balance; the comedy feels forced and ...1
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