Published Oct 01, 2004Can't American filmmakers come up with their own ideas? I mean, they already have the most powerful film industry in the world, do they really need to keep stealing their ideas from other countries?
1996's Japanese comedy Shall We Dansu was a fine little film. Eight years later, American director Peter Chelsom turns "Dansu" into "Dance" and hires Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez to help him destroy the uniqueness of the original. And by destroy I mean Americanise. Because not only is Shall We Dance a remake of Dansu, it's essentially a remake of so many American "mid-life crisis" films that have come before it. And for a film like this to at least moderately succeed despite its unoriginality it needs to at least try to add something new.
Gere plays John Clark, an accountant who is becoming increasingly bored with his routine lifestyle. His wife (a lovely Susan Sarandon, who is way too good for this movie) and kids ignore him, and, well, he's an accountant! So what's he to do? Well, apparently the answer to everything in this movie is ballroom dance lessons! And who better to teach John to dance than a depressed ex-professional dancer played by a robotic and uninspired Jennifer Lopez? From there, the movie becomes an unbearably predictable and ridiculous mess. There's flirtation, marital problems, a heated dance competition, about six secondary characters with their own life problems that also seem to be easily solved by ballroom dancing and, I almost forgot, a musical performance by Ja Rule!
It all boils down to the fact that we don't really care about the characters in this movie, which makes it really difficult to sit through scene after scene of forced sentiment. However, there is one scene near the end between Gere and Sarandon that is very well done and one minor saving grace of the film. Rent the Japanese original, please, even for the sole reason that people that hire Jennifer Lopez for acting purposes (or musical ones for that matter) do not deserve our money. (Alliance Atlantis)