I have to be honest in that when I opened up the UPS package and saw “Shall we Dance?” tumble out, I was a bit shocked. “Why?” I thought to myself “of all the catalog titles that Disney has, why would they release this movie on Blu-ray?” The only answer (and the only person listening) to my question was on my television every Monday night. That’s right, I can only assume this movie is getting props because of the immense popularity of television’s “Dancing with the Stars”. The movie itself is a remake of a 1996 Japanese film (and a far better one, I might add) but the starring roles have Richard Gere (obviously then still on his post “Chicago” buzz), Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon. Fans of dancing might find something of interest to watch Gere transform from clumsy businessman into a dancer, but audiences in 2004 didn’t particularly enjoy the film.
The plot is so contrived that I find it hard to believe this movie is a re-make. We meet businessman John Clark (Richard Gere) as he ogles a lonely figure each and every night in a window. He acts on instinct and decides to enroll in some dance classes not to learn how to dance, but to get a date with the woman in the window (Jennifer Lopez). Is it that easy? Of course not. He gets stuck with another instructor and though initially jaded by the class, he sticks with it. John’s wife (Susan Sarandon) grows increasingly suspicious of John’s absenteeism and this boils up to the predictable “are you having an affair?” talk that so many movies enjoy showing us. I’ll leave the wrap up to the imagination, but let’s just say that it’s as predictable as the rest of the movie. While not a total waste of time, “Shall we Dance?” does have a few moments here and there, but if it’s really the dancing you’re into might I suggest an episode of “Dancing with the Stars” instead?
Video: How does it look?
I’ve seen “Shall we Dance?” twice now, once on an airplane in 2004 and now on Blu-ray and let me tell you, the two experiences couldn’t have been more different. The 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer really stood out and surprised me. The movie isn’t that old, so I wasn’t expecting anything that poor but this transfer is almost jaw-droppingly good. Colors are very rich and vibrant and really add to the atmosphere on screen. Flesh tones are very warm and natural and though the film has a lot of dark scenes, black levels were right on and very consistent throughout. Detail is amazing as well and I have to say that what the film lacks in style and substance, it more than makes up for with this transfer.
Audio: How does it sound?
“Shall we Dance?” contains a fairly good PCM uncompressed track that left a little room for improvement, but it still delivers. Granted romantic comedies aren’t usually that audio-heavy and this is certainly no exception. The dancing scenes are by far the most robust when it comes to ambiance, and dialogue sounds very rich and natural. Surrounds don’t make their presence known too often, but are mainly there to provide a bit of ambiance. The soundtrack sounds adequate and it does serve its purpose, but not much more.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This Blu-ray disc contains just the right amount of extras to warrant a purchase if you’re a fan of the film. We start out with a commentary by director Peter Chelsom who’s particularly chatty and draws sever comparisons between his film and the 1996 version. There’s some technical talk as well and I have to say that Chelsom gets his money’s worth out of this track. A few standard featurettes are included as well as the obligatory “Making of…” track. We get a short segment on the technical dancing part as well as 8 deleted scenes and some trailers (but none of this movie).