Shall We Dance? DVD: Review By justincase

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Based on the Japanese film by the same name, Shall We Dance? stars Jennifer Lopez (dance instructor, Paulina), Richard Gere (daddy and lawyer-extraordinaire) and Susan Sarandon (super-mom and career-wife).

Gere's John Clark has it all. He's got a great career, beautiful and successful wife and two great kids. Although he hates to admit his dissatisfaction, he wants to be happier. When he notices a beautiful woman leaning out of the window of a dance studio, he lets his curiousity and a basic attraction get the best of him. He heads up the stairs and signs up for ballroom dance lessons.

As John deceitfully keeps his dance instruction from his wife and family, he discovers that he loves the motion and finds joy in his new pastime.

Predictably, the forlorn Paulina strikes up a "relationship" with John and releases her emotional baggage, finding her passion for the dance again. Even more predictable than Paulina sparking with John is that John's wife comes to believe that her husband is having an affair. Of course, that would be the only explanation for his newfound happiness and late nights.

When we wind up at the destination, all is right with the world. The "attraction" John had for Paulina is simple and innocent enough (well, mostly). John still loves his wife and has a new love that gives him (and, will likely give his wife, in the future) happiness -- the dance.

We, perhaps, get a little less of the character back-story on John than we'd like. We do know what that he has what we all should want. We know that he's feeling lacking. He wants something. We could use more of the guilt that infects him for wanting more. Gere is capable of more, but in the context of the story and the limitation of the running time, maybe there just wan't room for any more.

Lopez' character could have also given us a bit more. There could have been a bit more friction between Lopez and Gere. The audience, perhaps, could have been a bit more entranced by a perilous chemistry between the characters.

In the final analysis, though, the film was entertaining and was an interesting tale that captivates, but not too much... just barely enough.

The star-turn of the film is Stanley Tucci in a hilarious performance as a closet ballroom dancer, clad in sequins, tacky wig and makeup.

Peter Chelsom directs a decent remake (although I've not seen the original... yet -- Miramax did send it along for review, so I'll get to it in a week or so).
Feature Commentary with Director Peter Chelsom

Chelsom is a decent director and is reasonably interesting to listen to on commentary. We get to hear him talk about the set-up and the creation and the detail of the characters and the complexity of the dance. Overall, a decent commentary.

Beginners' Ballroom

The actors, along with choreographers and other experts break-down the dancing history and structure. We get a lot of information in an interesting little featurette. All the rules and the steps and how they taught the actors to "speak the language of the film". This is a good example of what the special features on a DVD are good for.

Behind the Scenes of Shall We Dance?

Standard behind-the-scenes fare that tells you the story behind the film and gives the insight into the cast and crew and the making-of the film through interviews and little 'snippets' of candid shots during the filming.

The Music of Shall We Dance?

The film has an interesting portfolio of music. Mya comes out on the track, as do the P*ssycat Dolls. Contemporary presentations of the classics adorn the picture and, as you'd imagine with ballroom dancing, lots of big-band type stuff. We do get a bit of latin rythm for certain dance scenes. Overall, a great musical accompaniment and this featurette will take you inside.

P*ssycat Dolls Sway Music Video

Probably the best feature on the disc. Great re-working of the Dean Martin classic. Its cool to see a group of sexy young ladies who can sing work-it-out to some updated classic notes. One can only think, though, with the group's name and psuedo-Destiny's Child vocals that we'll not be hearing from these gals for too awfully long. Enjoy it while it lasts...

Deleted Scenes

Kind of strange. A bunch of title treatment stuff and random dancing blended with some other "deleted" scenes. Some of the scenes (including the elevator scene are alrright. The music that overlays the scenes is great, though. Good baseline. You do have a commentary option as well.
On the 32" Philips HD LCD, this picture shows no defects throughout the running time. The only problem that I saw was the layer switch at about the mid-point. Big, vibrant LCDs are outstanding for DVDs played in progressive scan and this Amblight LCD from Philips is no exception. The Amblight, again, serves to deepen the texture and mood of the film. Pretty cool.
This is not a movie that begs for the full 5.1 treatment. If your standard audio is as good as that on the 32" LCD from Philips, you'll not miss the full system at all. Yeah, there is a lot of great music in the picture (as you'd expect). However, you really don't need to piss off your neighbors to get an adequate audio experience from this film.
Lopez, Gere and Sarandon gaze out at us from the cover of the disc, with a shaded pairing of Gere and Lopez cutting the rug, inset. On the back, we get some images from the film (more of Gere and Lopez, enough so to make you certain they'll be doing the horizontal mambo somewhere during the running-time). We also get the typical descriptions of the film, features and specs.
Reasonably entertaining romantic comedy that takes us on an affair of the heart that doesn't exactly involve "another woman". A good "date-flick" for older married couples and decent entertainment for everyone else.

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