If You Build It, They Will Come.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Domo ari gato gozai masu.

Last night I accidentally watched "Shall We Dance," the Richard Gere, J-Lo, ballroom dancing movie. Accidentally, because my roommates were watching "The Ring," and I was waiting for the movie to be over so I could call their cellphone once the credits started. So once that happened, I was assuming that they were going to bed, and I could watch Carnivale. Instead, Jamie was too freaked out, and needed to turn on something a little more light hearted before she fell asleep. And so, they started watching "Shall We Dance," and I sat out there with them waiting for them to go to bed. They went to bed about halfway through, and for some reason, as I remember actually saying out loud in an empty room, I watched the rest of it.

It was the typical lame ending chick flick. Let me explain the film, as I doubt many people who read this site have seen it.

Richard Gere is married to Susan Sarandon. Everyday on an elevated train ride home through Chicago, he sees J-Lo in a window of a dance studio. One day, (the third day) he gets off the train and goes and starts taking dance lessons. Suspicious Susan Sarandon wonders why he's coming home late smelling of J-Lo, and she hires a detective, rather than just asking. Detective finds out he's taking dance lessons, and this potentially interesting narrative conflict is completely averted. Meanwhile, Dick Gere asks J-Lo out for a donut or coffee or something, and she completely wigs out. She tells him that he sholdn't have signed up for the class if all he wanted was her because she is a veil of mystery and inner torture that must dance to forget the angst caused by the loss of her last dancing partner, or some other "all about me" bullshit. Her other partner didn't even die. They were seeing each other, and one day they were dancing and he fell down. Then he decided he could no longer be with her. So anyway, Richard Gere is walking down the street, and his teenage son yells to him and asks him to come to this rap club where Ja Rule is performing to meet this girl he really likes. Now I'm not sure what parallel universe this film has just dipped into, but a teenage kid who brings their Richard Gere father to see Ja Rule on the spur of the moment to meet this girl doesnt' exist. The kid would be hiding his face as the father walks past so that dad doesn't see him and potentially embarrass him in front of this girl he really likes, or so that dad doesn't know that he's going to see Ja Rule on a school night (it is wednesday). So anyway, Richard Gere and this obnoxious blond girl named Bobbi, end up going to this competition, and Susan Sarandon and their young daughter decide to go watch. Throughout the entire thing they're really proud of dad. Until daughter makes her prescence known, and Richard totally bites it and tears of this girls dress. The music stops, and everyone stares... the way the do in nightmares, not in real life. Bobbi runs away, and suddenly Susan Sarandon is all angry with Richard Gere. She's mad because he never told her. Again, she never asked, she just hired a detective, who hit on her a lot, and nothing ever happened, thus avoiding another interesting element of "plot." So then Richard swears off dancing (!) and decides to wash the car. He then sobbingly tells Susan Sarandon that he didn't want her to know he wasn't happy because he thought she'd somehow take it personally. Instead, he lied to her and danced sexily with J-Lo. Smooth. So then, Susan goes to work at a JC Penney. She allows Richard to go say goodbye to J-Lo, who is moving somewhere I guess. Instead, he gets dressed in a tux, buys a rose, and comes up an escalator and dances with Susan Sarandon, right in front of this sub-character who found out her husband was cheating on her and is in the process of going through a very painful divorce. She even starts crying as they dance very happily, showing that women love to rub in how much better they are, even if they like you. So then, they both go to the J-Lo goodbye party. J-Lo dances with Richard Gere, and can be happy again. She goes to a dance competition. Not sure if she won or not, she just went to this competition. The bald co-worker, who I didn't really mention, is happy again. Susan Sarandon learns to dance. Some other guys get married. Some other guy I think becomes gay. I'm not sure about that one. And everyone lives happily ever after.


The writing in this movie was terrible. The film itself was cheesy and unbelievable. But then I found something out. Something you may have already known, but I didn't so back off.

This film, in the tradition of "The Ring," (originally called "Ringu") and "The Grudge" (originally called "Ju-On: The Grudge") was a japanese remake (originally called "Shall We Dansu?"). No joke. It came out originally in 1996. And seeing the preview the way they show the previews for the films they just ripped off before the film, you realize it's stolen nearly shot for shot.

What's the deal with this? Is it Hollywood's lack of creativity, or is it the American unwillingness to believe that anything good can exist without it being in english and having blond people in it? "Vanilla Sky" was originally a spanish film called "Abre Los Ojos" (Open Your Eyes) and in BOTH versions Penelope Cruz played Sofia.

I'm waiting for the American versions of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Amelie, (called "Grazing Cattle, Flying Unicorns" and "Amy Lee" respectively.)



  • Ok, two things... first of all, when you're a big-shot hollywood director, don't re-make a japanese film... seriously, check out the korean market, it'll be a totally untapped resource... ;)

    Mostly, however, I wanted to mention that Shall We Dance? (American Version) is absolutely not taken shot for shot from the original. The original is not some stupid-ass cheesy romantic comedy, instead it's a social commentary on the state of japanese culture and how it forces people to force down emotions, self-expression, etc, etc, etc... It's a phenomenal movie, and I highly recomend it to anyone, anywhere... If you want, come over to my place, and I'll let you watch my copy...


    By Blogger jon jon, at Tue Feb 22, 12:53:00 AM EST  

  • Joe, can I call you Joe, you seriously KICK ASS!!!!!!!

    By Blogger Harley Davidson, at Tue Feb 22, 01:16:00 AM EST  

  • In other words, the original is a lot better. Nice. All I know is the shots they showed in the preview were all mimicked in the American version. If I remake a japanese film, it will either be Speed Racer, or Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. In either case, I'll get Richard Gere and J-Lo.

    Also, Harley, thanks. Yes you can call me Joe.

    By Blogger Joseph, at Tue Feb 22, 01:39:00 AM EST  

  • Hi Joseph,

    I've come to realize that your blog is almost as entertaining as that of Dave Barry's column. Methinks you two share similar sense of humor, which is pretty cool considering Dave's one of my favorite columnists.

    Keep the good stuff coming.

    Chrissy the Self-degrading Specialist

    PS Thanks for your comment regarding assfaced model

    By Blogger Chrissy, at Tue Feb 22, 02:36:00 AM EST  

  • 90 5p33d R4(3r! 90! 7|-|47'5 |\/|y \/073.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Feb 22, 10:42:00 AM EST  

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