Diaz and Collette get sole-ful
"In Her Shoes" is one of those movies which firmly deserve the title of being a chick flick, especially with it being an adaptation of Jennifer Weiner's chick-lit novel. And as such "In Her Shoes" is definitely a movie which will appeal mainly to female audiences and as I'm not female I wasn't expecting to enjoy it much. In fact for the first half an hour I was struggling to really get into it, but then director Curtis Hanson manages to step it up turning the early predictable nonsense into something with intelligence and a surprising level of charm.
Despite being sisters Rose (Toni Collette - The Last Shot) and Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz - Shrek 2) have very little in common other than their shoe size. Rose, the older of the sisters is career minded with a good job, whilst Maggie a free spirit who struggles to hold down a job enjoys partying and casual relationships. When Rose allows Maggie to move in with her in her Philadelphia apartment their already awkward relationship becomes too difficult when Rose catches Maggie in bed with her boyfriend and she heads off to find her Grandmother Ella (Shirley MacLaine - Bewitched).
As already mentioned "In Her Shoes" is an adaptation of the hugely popular novel by Jennifer Weiner and safely resides in being a movie which targets female audiences as it tells a tale of rivalry between two sisters, Maggie and Rose played by Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. The trouble is that to really enjoy "In Her Shoes" you have to get past the first half hour which is completely predictable and seems to go absolutely nowhere. Straight away the movie sets up the two sisters and their individual stereotypes with Rose being a career minded lawyer whilst her younger sister Maggie is a party girl who lives life on her looks. But then it dwells in this area for far too long building up these characters and relationship too the point that it feels over kill.
But once we get past all of this and "In Her Shoes" moves into what I would call the meat of the movie, as each of the sisters develops away from their stereotypes as well as dealing with where their lives are heading, the movie gets significantly better. It still seems to drift along at times as if it has no real end in mind but the developments makes it far more interesting. It is also at this point where we get introduced to Rose and Maggie's estranged Grandmother and just the introduction of this prominent character played by a wonderful Shirley MacLaine makes "In Her Shoes" slip out of predictable nonsense into a much more intelligent drama which rises from the boredom of the first few scenes.
Don't get me wrong though, as whilst "In Her Shoes" becomes a far more interesting movie than initially expected it never hits the heights of being an intense, emotional drama which will tug at your heart strings. In fact the attempts to derive emotion from the audience are frankly rather weak and so obvious that it never gets the tears flowing like other chick-flicks manage.
Although the storyline is surprisingly good it is the stars and characters which make "In Her Shoes" work, especially the trio of Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. Cameron Diaz, is surprisingly good as Maggie the party girl, not because with her stunning looks she fits the stereotype but the journey she goes on as she discovers that she can achieve more than just getting drunk at parties. Like wise Toni Collette fits the ideal of career minded Rose perfectly who struggles with her own insecurities due to being slightly over weight. But as with Maggie it is the development of the character which is the most interesting and the way she deals with those insecurities. The pairing of Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette may be a little surprising but it works well to highlight the differences in the characters.
But for me the real star of "In Her Shoes" is Shirley MacLaine who plays their grandmother. Her character, Ella, is pretty much the sort of role MacLaine has found herself playing in recent years but she does it so well. Ella's no nonsense approach to living is shown in every scene and helps turn "In Her Shoes" from being just another meaningless chick flick into something much more.
What this all boils down to is that "In Her Shoes" definitely won't be everyone's cup of tea and I don't just mean that men may hate it. It is not your typical chick flick and although not overly intense strays away from much predictable nonsense which makes up many popular women orientated movies. If you can get past the first half hour which is quite cliche then "In Her Shoes" will deliver just enough drama to make it worth while and the performances of Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette as well as Shirley MacLaine definitely makes it a lot more enjoyable than first expected.