Publicity Stills of "In Her Shoes"
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Drama
Director: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette, Shirley MacLaine, Mark Feuerstein
RunTime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG

Opening Day : 12 January 2006

Synopsis :

IN HER SHOES is the alternately hilarious and heart-rending story of two sisters with nothing in common but size 8 ½ feet. Maggie and Rose Feller are both best friends and polar opposites when it comes to values, goals and personal style.

Maggie (Cameron Diaz) is a party girl who barely graduated from high school, recycles jobs as quickly as yesterday’s newspapers and believes her biggest asset is her attractiveness to the opposite sex. Her recurring state of unemployment leaves her virtually homeless as she bounces between the sofas of her friends and relatives. With no confidence in her intellectual ability, she prizes makeup over books and has an innate talent for choosing the perfect accessories and clothes for any occasion.

Rose (Toni Collette) is a Princeton educated attorney at a top law firm in Philadelphia. Her beautifully decorated prewar apartment is her haven from the outside world. With her nose perpetually to the grindstone, she struggles constantly with her weight and never feels comfortable in the clothes she wears. Her low self esteem regarding her physical appearance has left her dating life non-existent. Rose’s one joy in life is shoes (because they always fit), but unfortunately she has few social opportunities to remove them from her closet.

After a calamitous falling out, the two sisters travel a bumpy road toward true appreciation for one another – aided along the way by the discovery of the maternal grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) they thought was dead. Through their re-connection with their grandmother, Ella, Maggie and Rose learn how to make peace with themselves and with each other.

Movie Review:

I'd like to think that sisters are always the best of friends, and the worst of enemies, all rolled into each other. Based upon the novel by Jennifer Weiner, and adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant (who wrote the Julia Roberts movie Erin Brockovich), director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) brings us a tale of two sisters (no, no horror in this one) through a journey of self discovery, and understanding.

Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is the hot sister. She has no qualms about banging in the toilet with people she meets for the first time, nor bats an eyelid at flirting her way to free drinks at the bar. Holding no regular jobs other than short stints at various sales positions, she can't read well, and she can't do numbers. In short, she's your typical blonde bimbo, whose street smarts gets her around in various situations. I'm surprised that the movie started off with Garbage's "Stupid Girl" as we get introduced to Maggie. Very apt indeed.

On the contrary, Rose Feller (Toni Collette) is the exact opposite. She's a hardworking lawyer with a successful career ahead of her. Sure she might not be blonde or have a killer bod, but she certainly has the smarts. She seemed to have her life organized and her goals set, until one day she's resigned to having Maggie live with her in her apartment. Not that she hates her sister, but she has her limits when Maggie barges and imposes herself onto Rose's life.

And the straw finally breaks when Rose catches Maggie having an affair with her boyfriend, a partner in the same law firm. She snaps, and in rage, the sisters part ways.

We thought that having them together will provide for many comedic moments (not the laughing out loud type, it's the really subtle, witty lines of dialogue peppered throughout the movie), but here's where the drama and the movie really picks up. We follow two very different lives as the sisters begin to look at themselves, and improve for the better, in parallel.

Character development takes centerstage as we experience the pain that Maggie goes through, that she has low self confidence and esteem, and how she overcomes that, through her interaction, and encouragement, from a grandmother she never knew, Ella Hirsch (played by the regal Shirley MacLaine). Rose finds new love, and through that new love, regains her
own confidence in being herself. Dumping her job may be the best thing she ever did, what once was eating into her life, she has retaken, and living it, though many would think it insane to have thrown a lucrative career out of the window.

Maggie's life at Ella's retirement home might be funny (with her turning on the heat amongst retired men), while Rose's experience with new love take on a more serious tone, but we learn that the two sisters have something more in common than their shoe size, and
that is the love they have for each other (and not admitting it), and for their mother.

It's also amazing how much story can go into the mother character of the two sisters, a character that is not played out on screen, but only brought to the movie through dialogue. We discover the immense love that she has for her children, while battling her own illness, and the prejudices her husband and her own mum have labelled on her. Moments like this, you'd
want to whip out your tissues.

Inevitably, the two sisters would meet again, with the help of Ella, and the most powerful of scenes are when the three fill the screen with emotions from the heart - how well-meaning notions can be misconstrued, that we realize we somehow always say the most hated things
to the people we love, and how they always forgive our mistakes. No overacting, no over-dramatizing. You'll be surprised at how simple it's all kept at.

Perhaps my only gripe would be how the film meanders itself to arrive at this stage. Not that the movie is slow, but it takes its time to tell a complete story, with quite a huge cast of interesting, supporting (though at times cliched) characters, and subplots that don't seem to be in a hurry. But you realize that it's not about the destination that matters, but the journey, and you'll hardly feel that this movie is slightly over 2 hours long.

The movie should appeal to a wide range of audiences, and it will be common misconception to label it flatly as a chick flick. Sure, the girls will be able to easily identify with the issues presented, while the guys will have a field day with clothes-horse Diaz, as she drapes every scene in cleavage baring, figure hugging, or leg revealing outfits, flashing her butt in a thong, bikini, or shorts.

But look beyong the skin, and judge not the book by its cover. The actresses seem to be playing
cariacatures of themselves at the beginning of the movie, especially Diaz. But as the movie develops, so do the characters, and so does the acting, convincing you of the change effortlessly. Shirley MacLaine is priceless as the grandmother Ella, as she finds her
way to get through the generation gap to communicate with her grand-daughters, whom she has not met in ages.

For the more mature audiences, perhaps its time to take stock of family relationships, of letting bygones be bygones, of forgiving and reconciliation. Having the movie set half the time in a retirement home, made me wonder how my retirement would be like - bitter, regretful, or filled with activities and looking forward to new life when the hair is silver.

While some may pass off the ending as Hollywood fluff, I beg to differ. This movie ended in a way that it should end, and reinforced many messages that you'll come to be reminded of, about family, siblings, and putting yourself in someone else's shoes and walking around in them.

Movie Rating:

Review by Stefan Shih

(An honest story about sibling love, rivalry, and family, that blood always runs thicker than water. An excellent story brought to life by a brilliant cast)

DISCLAIMER: Images, Textual, Copyrights and trademarks for the film and related entertainment properties mentioned
herein are held by their respective owners and are solely for the promotional purposes of said properties.
All other logo and design Copyright©2004-2006, movieXclusive.com™
All Rights Reserved.