Friday, October 07, 2005

In Her Shoes - Movie Review

In Her Shoes 2005

Once upon a time . . . there were two sisters. One was fat. One was slutty. And they fought over shoes. They fought so hard over shoes, that the fat one threw the slutty one out of her home . . . well, really ‘cause she caught the whore fucking her hot new boyfriend, but shoes were part of it. The slut discovered that they had a grandmother they had never heard about. So she moved in with her. And they all lived happily ever after.

There. Aren’t you glad we spared you the time, money and effort it would have taken to actually go see this movie? WHAT?? You’re not? And you claim we ruined the movie for you? Well, guess what? There’s no Santa Claus either, you simple minded cunts. Now, listen here. Nobody was more excited about seeing this movie than we were. We love the director, Curtis Hanson, who helmed the intricately plotted and fabulously noir-ish “L.A. Confidential”, the underrated dramedy, “Wonder Boys”, containing – don’t faint – Michael Douglas’ best performance ever, and Eminem’s surprisingly believable and gripping debut in “8 Mile.

In Her Shoes” features three of our favorite actresses. Toni Collette, who had us with “Muriel’s Wedding”, and who we came to forgive for the overwrought and much over praised cinematic twaddle, “The Sixth Sense”. Although we are glad that it led to an Oscar nomination for Miss Collette, we will say it again: we don’t care if Bruce Willis’ character was dead. Clearly the audience was brain dead, if they didn’t realize it. Moving on.

Cameron Diaz, who has been a thorn in our side for awhile now. We thought she was terrific in “Being John Malkovich” and “Vanilla Sky”. The less said about some of her other credits, the better. But, we still had hope!

And of course, we have been fans of the grand dame, Shirley MacLaine since her debut in 1955 with Hitchcock’s wonderful black comedy, “The Trouble With Harry.” We think Shirley is underappreciated, despite her five Oscar nominations and win for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.” So, knowing full well that good roles for actresses dried up around 1973, we were all set for a rollicking, good, estrogen laden time. And then we saw the movie.

Curtis. Curt. Bubbalah. You let us down. “L.A. Confidential”, “Wonder Boys” and “8 Mile.” We loved all three. And now this. This . . . chick flick is a phrase we detest, since it implies that films revolving around female characters are somehow less worthy than a . . . well, a dick flick. In this case, they would be right. Now before you start labeling us curmudgeons . . . well, go ahead. We don’t care. You don’t even know us, assholes. Let’s just put our cards on the table, shall we. We were rooting for this film. We are so sick of action adventure, and fart joke comedies, that we longed for an adult comedy / drama that allowed three talented actresses to stretch their skills and entertain us. Now, if only we had undergone a lobotomy, perhaps we would have enjoyed it.

First. The plot. What little there is. It’s Cinderella, people. “In Her Shoes.” Get it? And, oh wait, what is the last name of the characters played by Toni and Cameron? It’s “Feller”. Somewhere, Jerry Lewis is starting a lawsuit. If he can put down the fried chicken long enough. And, oh wait, what is the character name of Shirley MacLaine? It’s “Ella”. And oh yeah, Bruce Willis’ character in “The Sixth Sense” was D-E-A-D!!!!!! Fine, dandy. Steal from Fairy Tales, it worked for some people. Here? Not so much. Apparently the toilet paper thin plot was lifted from some book. Well, author Jennifer Weiner (unfortunate last name, poor thing) and screenwriter, Susannah Grant should be bitch slapped twenty times each for undercutting the audience’s intelligence, and relying on the oldest of standbys. The quoting of a celebrated poet to wring tears where none are deserved. Twice in this film, we are led to believe that the idiot sister, played by Cameron, who is too dimwitted to know that her twat is hanging out has apparently become a connoisseur of Elizabeth Bishop and e.e. cummings. The poetry lessons are courtesy of a dying white haired old blind coot living in the old farts housing community where Granny Ella resides. Not since Denise Richards attempted to portray a doctor have we been less than convinced.

And yes, we know all about “suspension of disbelief.” But being forced to swallow Cameron’s character, who for most of the film was dressed in slutgear that Mariah Carey would have rejected, as an aspiring “stylist” to the geriatric crowd – well, not even our fabulous imaginations can stretch that far. Unless the retirement village that Grandma Shirley lives in is populated by retired porn stars. Then, maybe. There are so many moments of hand wringing shame in this movie, that let’s just say that the most sincere and interesting scene was when Toni’s latest beau playfully read aloud from a dime-store romance novel – and suddenly the dialogue DIDN’T seem trite or forced.

We are aiming most of our vitriol towards the novel and screenplay, since this is truly the source of all evil in this movie. The three leading ladies all try their best to fill out cardboard characters to varying degrees. Toni has been saddled with these fat sister roles too many times, she deserves better. Cameron may be able to slap on a bikini and tense her stomach muscles, but she ain’t stretching any acting ones here. And poor Shirley. We suppose there aren’t many script choices out there for an actress older than coal, but at least she manages to almost make her crusty old bitch somewhat believable. The most upsetting thing for us was Curtis Hanson’s involvement. He is still a talented director. Even slumping through a pile of shit scenario, he manages to weave the various reed thin plot points into a whole canvas. It’s just that his skill is so completely wasted on such trifle; we pray he hasn’t lost his mind. Honestly, if we had been forced to sit through such waste of celluloid onboard a plane, we would have gladly walked out.

So do yourselves a favor, skip this one. You’ll be glad we watched it for you. Bless you all!

Note: As if the ludicrous plot points weren’t enough to leave emotional scars, even the shoes in question are HIDEOUS!!! Jimmy Choo should sue. Lessening his brand value like that! For shame.

Directed by Curtis Hanson
Written by Susannah Grant
Based on the novel by Jennifer Weiner

Cameron Diaz as Maggie Feller
Toni Collette as Rose Feller
Shirley MacLaine as Ella Hirsch
Mark Feuerstein as Simon Stein
Brooke Smith as Amy
Ken Howard as Michael Feller

Cinematography by Terry Stacey
Film Editing by Lisa Zeno Churgin and Craig Kitson
Original Music by Mark Isham
Production Design by Dan Davis
Art Direction by Jesse Rosenthal, John Warnke & John Wildermuth Jr.
Set Decoration by Teresa Visinare
Costume Design by Sophie de Rakoff