Shall We Dance

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By Mark Ramsey | 2004/10/14

A ballroom ballet really captures the zeitgeist of the moment, doesn’t it? What can I say about a movie where Richard Gere shouts at Stanley Tucci: “You don’t care about playoffs, you care about dancing!

Well, the odds of getting anyone to Shall We Dance? more manly than Courtney Love – or Jennifer Love Hewitt, for that matter – are slim, indeed.

Yes, if you love dancing, especially if you love dancers who are fast approaching their golden pirouette years, this movie is for you.

Both of you.

Jennifer Lopez must be smokin’ because she clears a theater like yelling “Fire!”

J. Lo is a teacher in a Chicago dance studio run by “Miss Mitzi,” that’s legendary 70′s game show icon Anita Gillette, a woman who has been in the business since cue cards were cue stone carvings. At Miss Mitzi’s, there is one teacher for every three students and there are about six students total.

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Jennifer is sad and forlorn, muttering roboto-lines like “Certainly, Miss Mitzi” with humorless, blank, soulless expressions in what must be her weakest performance ever. She does most of her dancing with her favorite partner.

The mirror.

Unlike J. Lo’s last movie, she’s not killed off in the first fifteen minutes here, but it’s a thought.

Meanwhile, Richard Gere is having some kind of ultra-late middle-age crisis. Evidently, being a divorce attorney is ultimately unfulfilling. Who would have imagined that?

Together, J. Lo is Queen Guinevere and Richard is a Knight of her Round Ass.

Wasted lives are always fun to watch as long as those lives are redeemed, and redemption is one step-ball-change away, folks. The Dance is powerful. The Dance brings meaning and joy to whoever takes the first high-step, and he who gave the green light to this movie must have been quite high indeed.

Food spills on J Lo’s coat and the entire audience gasps. That’s right, the first honest emotional reaction to this movie comes in response to the challenges of stain removal.

It’s all downhill from there.

Susan Sarandon shines as Gere’s wife – grateful that she’s not playing the victim of a terminal illness.

What would a dance-movie be without a dance competition climax?! Complete with Stanley Tucci in a long, dark wig looking like a Colombian Drug Lord of the Dance.

shallwedance_geeks.jpgYou see, everyone’s lives are changed by The Dance. The Dance magically transforms. Miss Mitzi surrenders the hooch. Stanley Tucci can be the real him. Richard’s love for his bride is rekindled. J. Lo will return to her passion and her Botox and her passion for Botox.

“Such is the potency of The Dance,” says Richard, “if every peace-loving citizen of the world would just Foxtrot we would obliterate Al Qaeda!” With that, the entire studio erupts into applause and counter-terrorist rhythmic vibrations radiate across the globe where somewhere, deep inside a far off cave, Osama Bin Laden shrugs his shoulders in defeat: “Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Now where are my blue suede shoes?”

For most of this audience, their last dance was the one celebrating the allied victory over Japan. “Just because we’re on wheels doesn’t mean we can’t spin,” one Richard Gere fan chided me.

There’s not much tang in this Tango and not enough balls in this Ballroom. “The Rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal wish,” says J. Lo.

Then again, so is sleepwalking.

They don’t make ‘em like this any more, and they won’t be making ‘em like this again.

Shall we dance? We shall not.


Photos Copyright ©2004 Miramax Films

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