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"SHALL WE DANCE?"
(1996) (Koji Yakusho, Tamiyo Kusakari) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild None Mild None None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None Mild Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama (Subtitled): A serious Japanese businessman is drawn to a dancer and takes up the art of ballroom dancing.
PLOT:
Shohei Sugiyama (KOJI YAKUSHO) is a successful Japanese businessman with a new home, a faithful wife, and a pleasant daughter. Yet he feels something is missing from his life. Every night on his way home from work, he gazes up at Mai (TAMIYO KUSAKARI), a former professional dancer who's lost her passion for competing. Summoning the courage to meet her, he signs up for ballroom dancing classes, but then learns that Mai only gives private and very expensive lessons. Thus, Shohei and several other beginners take their class with Tamako (NAOTO TAKENAKA) an older instructor, and he watches his mystery lady from across the room. At the beginning he's clumsy and awkward, but soon begins to enjoy his new pastime. His wife, however, becomes suspicious of his long absences from home, and hires a private detective to follow him. As time passes by, Shohei becomes a better dancer and gets help and inspiration from Aoki (AKIRA EMOTO), a Latino dancer wannabe, who also happens to be his "nerdy" co- worker. As Shohei becomes good enough to enter competitions, he must deal not only with his wife's concerns, but with his attraction to Mai and to ballroom dancing.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
A subtitled Japanese film about ballroom dancing will not have most kids lining up to see this production.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • KOJI YAKUSHO plays a Japanese businessman whose mid-life crisis leads him to an attractive lady. While he has an affair of the heart (and the feet), nothing comes of this as his focus changes from Mai to that of ballroom dancing.
  • TAMIYO KUSAKARI plays the former championship dancer who is cold and distant at first as she contemplates her life without competing. She soon warms up, however, and helps Shohei is his bid to become a better dancer.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    This is a small, uneventful film that you'll like more and more as it slowly weaves its cinematic magic over you. The production takes a very understated approach to storytelling, allowing the plot to slowly develop and encompass your emotions. The main character, Shohei, represents the "everyman," and his awkwardness and uncertainty can truly be felt and understood by most audience members. A great deal of the film's humor comes from his unsure reactions to events occurring around him, and the supporting cast is fabulous in generating the rest of the subtle and occasional physical humor. The best performance comes from Akira Emoto. From portraying the office "nerd" who the others snicker about, to the flamboyant Latino dancer wannabe, Emoto easily grabs the spotlight in his humorous dual role. More sedate and very reserved when compared to Emoto, Koji Yakusho plays most of his emotions in a very understated way, with all of them being powerfully conveyed by seemingly simple looks on his face. Even without the subtitles, one could easily understand his feelings, and that holds true for the movie in general. While there's never any romance between the two leads, it's nice to see Shohei's attraction to Mai switch over to dancing itself, which then allows her to warm up from her cold, distant character into someone who cares for Shohei and wants to help him succeed at dancing. And that's where our biggest, and really only, complaint comes from. For a film about dancing, there just isn't enough of it. While there are many scenes showing Shohei learning the steps (that are truly funny), the audience really longs to see all of this in action. Fortunately, the film finally delivers, saving the production from coming across as a "how to" training film, and the ballroom dancing scenes that are finally delivered are quite enjoyable. While many people will probably avoid this film due to the subtitles and the less than exciting sounding plot, they'll probably miss out on one of the better non-action films of the summer. If you're looking for something a little different, we suggest you ask the question, "Shall We Dance?" We give this film a 7 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    With only three categories barely receiving the maximum of a "mild" rating, there's very little to object to in this film. Shohei's "affair" of the heart is mildly troubling, but nothing ever comes of it, and his attraction to Mai is replaced by that of ballroom dancing. There's just one line that involves anything sexual and it's so brief that most people won't even notice it. A few rude remarks make up most of the bad attitude category, but in general, most prime time TV programs contain far worse material than you'll find in this film.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Shohei and two coworkers have been out drinking and the woman appears to be a bit tipsy.
  • Shohei and another man drink beer in a bar as do others.
  • Shohei and Aoki drink beer in a restaurant.
  • People drink wine at a going away party.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Shohei is drawn to Mai and while nothing comes of this, he does have an "affair" of the heart.
  • One dance student says that another is "fat" and other references are made about people calling them "old bag" and "cow."
  • A woman refers to a male dance student as "short ass."
  • A woman tells an overweight dance student that he disgusts her, but she later apologizes after he makes it known that she hurt his feelings.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • None.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases (all seen in subtitles): "Shut up," "Old bag" and "Cow" (both toward another person), "Creep," and "Jerk."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 1 ass, 1 crap, and 1 damn used as exclamations (all in subtitles).
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Shohei's wife thinks he's having an affair, but he isn't.
  • While trying to dance with Shohei, Mai says that he's "as stiff as a board." He instantly backs away (thinking this is an "arousal" comment), but she then laughs at her comment and says, "No, from the heart."
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Shohei's wife thinks he's having an affair (he isn't) and his frequent absences from home put a strain on their marriage. She eventually hires a detective to find out what he's up to.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Keeping interests or hobbies secret from loved ones.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A woman knocks a man down as she races into the dance studio.
  • A female dancer, perturbed at Aoki, races over and grabs him and then pulls his wig from his head.
  • A dancer slaps her male partner after they don't make it to the semifinalist round.



  • Reviewed May 2, 1997

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