SHALL WE DANCE? (2004)
Shall We Dance
The magic of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers will probably never be truly duplicated by any actors currently working on screen, especially in this film, but every few scenes or so, Shall We Dance gives the audience a little bit of magic. The appeal in this film comes not from the dance sequences, but from the performances of the cast, which make an otherwise standard script a more memorable experience. The film will never fall into the "classic" category, but for those in search of feature film romance, Dance should fit the bill.
Though the script is fairly predictable in its plotting and dialogue, the performances are genuine and comedic and if not for the questionable dancing ability of most of the cast members, the film might have flown with tougher audiences. But in a strange lot of casting, most of the actors in the film have to work far too hard to show any athletic grace on screen. The word, "clumsy," comes to mind when attempting to describe the performers and while a few of the cast members could have served as the clumsy comic relief, the overall effect of the casting leaves one in doubt of their true dancing skills.
Admittedly, Jennifer Lopez shows great skill in more than one screen with her dancing abilities, but usually, when she's paired with other cast members, the lack of inner grace from the rest of the cast is evident. Although the characters are supposed to be portraying beginning dance students, it always seems like they're each about to trip over one another at any given second. Of course, in the film's defense, the theme of the movie isn't really this group's dance abilities, rather it's the effect dance has had on their lives.
Shall We Dance
The film will most often entertain those members of the audience who are existing fans of the actors or who enjoy light, yet not-too-soupy romance. The film really does put an emphasis on comedy and from the high energy performances, it feels like there was a lot of fun to be had on the set during the making of it. Despite his reputation as a difficult actor to work with, Richard Gere keeps the grandstanding to a minimum and actually makes a few jabs at his own character during the film.
His costars are as equally gracious on screen, with Stanley Tucci, playing one of Gere's co-workers, tossing his hat into the ring with the most lively performance of the group. He makes the best of an ability to dance that seems to fade in and out of intensity in each scene. In some scenes he looks like he was trying to bring the performance into the realm of the insane and his dance moves become far too erratic for rational people to appreciate. Susan Sarandon, on the other hand, gives a much more steady performance, and as one of the more enduring actresses working in Hollywood today, she is easily counted upon for a sympathetic and rich performance.
Jennifer Lopez has had her high points and low points in her varied performance career and this film for her will probably be rated as a success rather than a failure on her resume. Her character is an interesting one in that, as a woman holding onto the past and neglecting her future, Lopez spends much of the film in silence rather than in conversation. And her efforts should reward general viewers and, more particularly, her fans, as her character holds more interest than many of her recent feature film roles.
This film is usually an exercise in the usual, with a modicum of imagination, and a sprinkling of mediocre. Most movies fall into this category, and by doing so, pigeon-hole their chances of gaining a widely varied viewership. Surprisingly, the dialogue doesn't show the greatest weakness in the film, as do so many movies currently in the marketplace. Shall We Dance is rather more of a movie meant for mindless enjoyment, with a few subtle emotional themes about growing older and the dangers of a stale marriage.
Shall We Dance is probably not a movie for general audiences. Those who view this film should have a rather specific reason of why they'd sit in the audience. If something in the trailer stands out or looks like it might hold your interest, the film might be a safe bet. What the movie has going for it is that it's light and fluffy, yet filled with genuine performances. For those viewers in the audience that can appreciate those sincere attributes, Dance will provide about a hundred minutes of theatrical enjoyment.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.
Shall We Dance