Shall We Dance, starring Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez, is a showcase for bad acting at its worst.
Lopez, playing a dance instructor, looks like her face is made of granite. It's totally expressionless for the duration of the movie, and even her body, which is supposed to be that of a graceful world champion dancer, moves like it's painful to walk.
She loosens up at the end of the movie - about the same time she lets her hair out of the tight sleek style it's confined to.
Gere plays John Clark, a typical businessman with a fabulously normal life, and he's not altogether dissatisfied with it, there's just something missing. He sees Paulina gazing wistfully out of the dance school window every day on his way home from work and impulsively goes into the school where he gets bullied into dancing lessons.
Gere, of course, is playing the role of a lost man looking for something to love. In the only plot twist in the movie, he realizes he actually loves to dance, and isn't really there for the girl. The problem is he's never quite convincing. I distinctly remember laughing at him, not with him, in moments where he was supposed to be funny.
Susan Sarandon plays his busy but cheerfully oblivious wife. She manages to be quite delightful for the first half of the movie, but the minute she hires a private investigator to find out if Clark is having an affair, she too spirals into the world of bad acting.
Stanley Tucci is remotely funny as the stiff sports guy businessman who is secretly a Latin dancer obsessed with fake teeth, bad wigs and sequins. In his businessman role he is entertaining, but as the dancer he's annoying.
Gere and Lopez generate absolutely no chemistry - Paulina isn't even interested in Clark - but they inspire each other to recreate their lives. Paulina is miserable because she lost the dance competition of a lifetime, and the man she loved, but Clark's love of dance convinces her to return to competitive dance.
The bright spot of the movie is the dancing costumes. The absolute bright frivolous nature of them is a direct juxtaposition to the ordinariness of the character and their lives. The waltz scenes are classy and a flashback to an era of dance before the invention of hip hop. This is after all, a dance movie, and once Paulina remembers she loves to dance, Lopez is interesting to watch.
The ending is so terminally cheesy and predictable it's almost painful, but at least it wraps up all the dangling strings.
Shall we dance? The answer is no.