Peter Chelsom’s Shall We Dance? may be the most polite seven-year-itch comedy ever made. In Chicago, a bored Richard Gere is riding on the 6, err, L, when he spots a sad J. Lo looking out the window of a dance studio. One day, the train inexplicably makes a stop in front of the establishment (must be running local today!) and John (Gere) decides to take lessons. Has he caught the dance fever or does he just have a wandering pee-pee? Maybe a little bit of both? You think John isn’t telling his wife Beverly (Susan Sarandon) about his new hobby because, like the repulsive loon played by Stanley Tucci, he’s hot for teacher, or doesn’t want anyone to think he’s a club-hopping tinkerbell (see closing credits), but his reason is more maudlin than that: He’s so happy with his marriage to his wife that he doesn’t want her to get the wrong idea should he tell her that he wants some “me” time after 19 years together. Middle-brow tosh like Shall We Dance? (a remake of Masayuki Suo’s popular 1997 import of the same name) seemingly exists to appeal to middle-aged, undersexed men and women in unhappy marriages, not to mention idiots who think the epitome of comedy is seeing two men dancing together. For the younger generation, there’s at least a half dozen gay panic jokes to coddle their sexual anxieties, but the film truly belongs to their parents: Husbands can think about tasting Jennifer Lopez’s Adobo Goya and wives can think about Richard Gere doing a ring around their rosies before both going home to back-to-back goodnights. A strange vision of exotic desire, Lopez (wonderful when the filmmakers finally allow her to turn her frown upside down) is essentially reduced to playing the role of Spicy Virgin Mary. In the end, this G-rated version of Unfaithful suggests that if middle-aged men and women think about it hard enough, it’s possible for them to have their cake…just as long as they rub up against it but don’t eat it.
- Peter Chelsom
- Audrey Wells
- Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Bobby Cannavale, Stanley Tucci, Len Cariou, Richard Jenkins, Nick Cannon, Mya, Lisa Anne Walter
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