All sorts of dance-specific clichZs come to mind while watching "Shall We Dance" — including the terms "having two left feet" and "flat-footed." And not aimed at the dancing.
If anything, this comedy-drama could use more dancing . . . and a lot less of the boring domestic drama that dominates so much of the film.
Of course, it might not seem so painful if this wasn't a remake of a considerably better film — the delightful low-key 1997 hit of the same title from Japan. Let's just say a lot has been lost in the translation.
Richard Gere stars as John Clark, a financial attorney who pretty much has it all, including a beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon). But he's having a mid-life crisis of sorts, which only worsens when he spies a beautiful dancer (Jennifer Lopez) in the window of a dance studio.
As it turns out, the dancer in question is Paulina, who is practicing her skills at Miss Mitzi's Dance School. So John goes up to investigate and suddenly finds himself participating in a ballroom-dance class taught by the owner (Anita Gillette). But rather than tell his wife about his new hobby, John keeps it a secret — which leads her to hire a private investigator (Richard Jenkins) to find out what her husband has been up to at night.
The film already feels long, but the filmmakers have padded it with a series of dumb subplots, one of which concerns one of John's co-workers (Stanley Tucci, in a fairly humiliating supporting role). Little of it is as amusing as director Peter Chelsom and screenwriter Audrey Wells obviously intended.
Surprisingly, Lopez is one of the film's main assets. Which is not to say that her performance is anything spectacular. It's just that she's not as awful as she has been in other films. And she is a very good dancer.
So is Gere, but he's pretty dull when his character isn't dancing (which may be the point, but someone like the infinitely more likable Tom Hanks — who was originally supposed to play his part — probably would have been better in the role). And the screenplay affords very little for Sarandon to do, aside from sulking.
"Shall We Dance" is rated PG-13 for vulgarity (some innuendo and suggestive dance moves), and scattered use of profanity (including one usage of the so-called "R-rated" curse word). Running time: 106 minutes.