If the Richard Gere/Jennifer Lopez-fronted Shall We Dance? were indeed a dance, it would be something akin to the Macarena or the latest club dance craze. Crowd-pleasing. Fluffy fun. A temporary thrill.

In the opening scenes, John Clark (Gere), a successful Chicago lawyer, is going through his daily routine-rise early, mechanically kiss the wife goodbye, ride the El to work, spend all day buried in paperwork, go home late to an uber-busy family life. In case we somehow miss his ennui from these scenes and from his forlorn looks, Clark's voice-over explains a common question he fields when he's finished drawing up wills for his clients: "Is that it then?"

John Clark (Richard Gere) and Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) in dance class

John Clark (Richard Gere) and Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) in dance class

Into this life of quiet desperation waltzes J-Lo-literally. As he's riding home on the El one night, John sees Paulina (Lopez) staring with a matching melancholy expression out the window of Miss Mitzi's Dance School. After seeing her there three nights in a row, John impulsively hops off the train at the last minute one evening and follows her haunting countenance like a moth drawn to a lovely but dangerous flame. When he discovers this beautiful woman is a dance instructor, he signs up for ballroom dancing classes. And it's in this quirky little dance studio that the plot, kitschy characters, and John's well-ordered world unfold.

This soft-shoeing tale of being roused from life's ruts is based on a 1996 Japanese subtitled movie of the same name. In contrast to this American remake, if that flick were a dance, it would be a waltz. Nuanced. Sophisticated. A classic.

There are some fundamental reasons the Japanese version works better. In the opening scenes, a voice-over (likely added for American distribution) explains that in Japan, a country where even married couples ...

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Shall We Dance?
Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
Average Rating
(not rated yet)ADD YOURSHelp
Mpaa Rating
PG-13 (for some sexual references and brief language)
Directed By
Peter Chelsom
Run Time
1 hour 46 minutes
Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon
Theatre Release
October 15, 2004 by Miramax Films
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