Here's the irresistible comedy treat that had critics and audiences cheering all across America ... and inspired the new Hollywood hit starring Richard Gere (CHICAGO), Jennifer Lopez (MAID IN MANHATTAN), and Susan Sarandon... more » (DEAD MAN WALKING). A middle-aged workaholic's incredibly dull life takes a funny turn when he signs up for a ballroom dance class -- just to meet the sexy dance teacher. But when he finally muscles up the nerve for lessons he winds up with a different instructor and her colorfully eccentric class of beginners! And now he'll have to step lightly -- and do some fancy footwork -- if he expects to keep his new secret passion from his family and friends! You'll love every minute of this crowd-pleasing motion picture!« less
Paul M. (BookMan49) from WHEATON, IL Reviewed on 4/7/2009...
A lovely story of a hard pressed office worker who finds joy in learning to dance. In my opinion better than the Richard Gere version.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Why tamper with perfection
Andy Orrock | Dallas, TX | 09/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I see over one hundred well-written summaries on these pages, with an average five-star rating. While adding my rave review to the list, I ask the question: Why tamper with perfection? The US-made re-make is about to hit the screens with A-list cast Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Susan Sarandon. I know for a fact that a large majority of the U.S. population will never watch a subtitled film, so I can understand the reason for re-making it. However, I think everyone who has written here will agree that there's no way this Gere/Lopez/Sarandon re-make will capture the spirit of the original, certainly not the two driving forces that propel it.
First, there's the drudgery of the Japanese salaryman...like millions of others Tokyo-based wage slaves, Koji Yakusho's unhappy accountant takes his hours-long train ride home each evening, beaten down a bit more by his lot in life. He spies a dance studio, a dancer...and slowly - night after night - develops a small dream. The night he finally decides to get off the train is a magnificent scene...there's a complete struggle going on inside his body to hop off and stay off that train. I wonder how the re-make will possibly capture even a smidgen of that angst.
Second, there are the strong mores of Japanese society and the overrriding ethos of "the upright nail gets hammered down." In the U.S., to a large extent, the spirit of the individual endures - if you want to dance, you dance. In Japan, not only is Koji Yakusho's character battling himself, he's battling his country's perception of his decision to dance, which basically can be summarized as: "Guys don't." Again, I challenge the re-make to capture this tension.
I will point out that I'm not dead set against any re-make: I'm a big fan of the Argentinian film "Nueve Reinas," and thought that 2929 Entertainment's recently released "Criminal" really compared quite well to the original. Still, I urge those of you with any interest in seeing the upcoming release of "Shall We Dance" to do yourself a favor and invest 118 minutes in the original, a great look at Japanese society."
A touching, humorous, very human film
LANCE R LINDLEY | Yokosuka, Japan | 11/25/1998
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Shall We Dance" is a great film about a typical, aging Japanese "salaryman" searching for a break from his dreary existence. What starts as a fantasy about a dance teacher he sees from the window of his train becomes an actual passion for dancing that changes his outlook on life and his relationships with those around him. I haven't seen the subtitled version, but the original Japanese version is clever, well-paced, and contains just the right dash of humor, especially Takenaka Naoto as the dance-mad coworker. This movie touched off a ballroom dance craze in Japan; whether it can affect Americans the same way is doubtful, but it's still a great little movie for anyone who enjoys foreign films."
Shall We DVD?
Andy Orrock | 05/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Since this movie is one that I could easily watch over and over, I have been waiting for it to come out on DVD. You don't have to know anything about ballroom dancing to enjoy it; it's simply a story of breaking out of the day-to-day drabness and doing something you love.I have several favorite characters in the movie; one is the private detective who's hired by the main character's wife to find out where he's been going at night. The private eye is all business at first, but after tailing his client's husband, he slowly gets drawn into the world of competitive dancing. The other is the shy, overweight, diabetic young man who takes up dancing on his doctor's orders to get some exercise. The scene where he bursts into tears, asking, "Am I really so terrible?" (I forget the exact words) had me in tears myself. The change in this character by the end of the film is amazing.It's a cliché, but this is a true "feel good" movie, and proof that you don't have to have sex, profanity, and violence to have an engrossing adult film."
Nice movie for all ages - for a nice quiet viewing
Susan Chen | East Hartford, CT United States | 06/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No sex, no violence, nothing suggestive...good clean family movie. The story can touch people of all ages because it addresses: boredom in a stable marriage, a suspicious spouse, a teenager embarrassed of her parent, people with "two left feet" who try to learn how to dance, the difference between good teachers and bad teachers, fear of failure, unrequited love (or the secret admirer), family enstrangement, persistence, how one of your office co-workers could be leading a double life, how to handle public embarrassment, and friends who come from unexpected places. The story is well organized, and even if you don't read the subtitles you would have an idea of what's going on. My favorite parts are watching the students go from slowly learning the basic steps, all the way to the beautiful moves and costumes of the competition dances. Shows an interesting perspective of office life in Japan, and also brings the universality of ballroom dancing to all cultures. Quite a few moments of light comic relief in the form of one particular quiet co-worker who afterhours imagines himself as a legendary champion dancer. The film shows that it's never too late to try dancing lessons. Great introduction if the thought of dancing ever crossed you mind. Maybe, you'll take that first step; with this movie at least you understand what to expect if you ever go to a dance studio. Have courage...after watching this movie, you'll KNOW that you could definitely do better than some of the dance students in this charming movie!"
Yes, I'd love to "Dance"
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 10/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Masayuki Suo won over audiences across the world with "Shall We Dance?", a sweet crowd-pleasing dance flick. Despite its serious look at Japanese culture, it's a charming and funny story about a man struggling to inject some sparkle into an unfulfilling life, and the dance that helps him do it.
Shohei Sugiyama (Koji Yakusho) is a successful businessman, with a lovely house, loving wife, and a lovely teen daughter. But though he has everything a person could want, he is unhappy and doesn't even know why. But one day on the way home, he sees a beautiful woman (Tamiyo Kusakari) looking sadly out of a dance studio. He sees her there every day, and eventually he hops out of the train and signs up for dancing lessons.
Since ballroom dancing is frowned on in Japan, Sugiyama keeps his lessons a secret, and it's a bit of a struggle for him to overcome his natural stiffness. Because of his odd hours and the perfume on his shirts, his wife is afraid that he's having an affair, and hires a detective to follow him. But after Mai rejects him, Sugiyama begins to have a love affair -- with ballroom dancing itself.
There's something very sweet and pure about "Shall We Dance?", which you hardly ever see in movies. Not just because of the lack of naughty material in it, but because the story itself has a sweet joy just ingrained into the dancing, the dialogue, and the way Sugiyama drags himself from the doldrums.
In Japan, ballroom dancing is considered kind of embarrassing and seductive, which gives Sugiyama's passion for the dance a "forbidden fruit" quality. But the film doesn't lapse into cliche territory. Sugiyama's affection for the beautiful Mai is based in something more than attraction, since he senses that she is as sad as he is. Their growing relationship is a beautiful thing to watch.
But don't think that it's all dancing and depression. Masayuki Suo gives the film some comic flair with a systems analyst who clearly has fantasies about being a wild-dancing Latin lover. But the director never descends to slapstick or hijinks, preferring to stick to the warm'n'fuzzy brand of comedy. The scripting is solid, with plenty of quotable gems like "Dance is more than the steps. Feel the music and dance for sheer joy." That could have been the tagline for this film.
Koji Yakusyo is entirely lovable as Sugiyama -- you can actually see this everyman getting happier as he gets more and more into his dancing lessons. Ballerina Tamiyo Kusakari plays Mai with sensitivity and depth, managing to convey a wealth of emotion in small gestures. The supporting characters, like the graceless Tanaka and the hysterical Aoki aren't as well fleshed out, but they are lovable.
"Shall We Dance?" is a unique little movie about joie de vivre. It's not a truly great film, but it is a wonderful one that will leave you with a smile on your face."