Film

Film

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In 1997, Miramax scored a minor box office coup with Masayuki Suo’s Shall We Dance?, a comedy about a Japanese salaryman who takes up ballroom dancing. Peter Chelsom’s remake (also a Miramax release) stars Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez, and exemplifies its distributor at its most blatantly opportunistic—plundering the recycling bin for a no-brainer cash-in. While Suo’s original was hardly a masterpiece, it featured a subtle performance from Koji Yakusho. Gere doesn’t even compare, playing the part of a despondent lawyer with the empathy of a mannequin. As his dance instructor, La Lopez avoids upsetting Chelsom’s hack direction and may finish the year without a Razzie nomination. Her ice queen teacher gradually warms to the new student, culminating in a sweaty night rehearsing the merengue. But clothed and vertical they remain. Providing nominal comic relief, Bobby Cannavale hams it up as a closeted stud while poor Stanley Tucci dons a black fright wig in the role of a salsa freak. The poster exhorts us to “Step Out of the Ordinary,” but by laboriously affirming wedded bliss and suburban life, Shall We Dance? refuses to teach by example.

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