Sick to death of Strictly Come Dancing? Fed up with Bruce Forsyth's rug and Natasha bloody Kaplinsky? Then Shall We Dance is so not for you. Indeed, you'd have to be a true sequin freak to get much out of Peter Chelsom's listless comedy, slavishly based on a 1996 Japanese flick that did surprisingly good business in the US thanks to a canny Miramax marketing drive.
Harvey and Bob are behind the remake as well, no doubt seeing this gentle tale of a dancing lawyer as the perfect vehicle for a post-Chicago Richard Gere. And while the erstwhile American Gigolo is hardly the best person to cast as a sexually frustrated, emotionally reticent workaholic, he does at least convey some of the release his character feels at casting off his humdrum routine and entering a twilight world of foxtrot, waltz and rumba.
Yet while Masayuki Suo's affecting yarn pressed all the right buttons in its native country, it simply doesn't work when transplanted to an American setting. Where Japan's rigid codes of behaviour made the hero's closet passion deliciously transgressive, there's no reason in the world for Gere to conceal his after-hours activities from wife Susan Sarandon and their two children. And while the teacher character remained a tantalising fantasy figure in Suo's original, casting Jennifer Lopez in such a subordinate role only serves to unbalance an already tottering rehash.
Chelsom's film has its plus points, most of them provided by Stanley Tucci as a colleague of Gere's with tango-related delusions of grandeur. Six Feet Under's Richard Jenkins has a smart cameo as the cynical PI Sarandon hires to trail her wayward hubbie, and the dance routines, though seemingly edited by someone with ADD, capably showcase both Richard and J-Lo's terpsichorean talents. What laughs there are, though, are of the unintentional variety, particularly when Lopez reveals her fervent wish to strut her stuff at the global mecca of ballroom dancing. Yes, Jennifer, you shall go to Blackpool!