"In Her Shoes" stinks

Oct. 12, 2005, midnight | By Allie O'Hora | 18 years, 4 months ago

Cameron Diaz stumbles in this tired chick flick

If "In Her Shoes" was a pair of shoes, it would be the kind a girl might buy on a whim and wear for only an hour or two before her feet are so pinched and blistered she can only hobble a few torturous steps before collapsing in agony. A week later, they're stuffed into a box in the back of the closet, never again to see the light of day. Cute on the surface, but ultimately painful – that's "In Her Shoes."

The film is director Curtis Hanson's disappointing follow-up to the remarkable rap biopic "8 Mile." Based on the chick-lit novel by Jennifer Weiner and adapted for the screen by Susannah Grant, "In Her Shoes" is an exploration of the troubled relationship between two sisters with nothing in common but their shoe size.

Maggie Feller (played by the unbearably cutesy Cameron Diaz) is a washed-up party girl whose behavior alternates between promiscuous and borderline psychopathic, while her long-suffering older sister Rose (Toni Colette) is a lonely, frumpy workaholic who's always willing to bail out her little sis when she inevitably screws up. So when Maggie shows up on Rose's doorstep in the middle of the night, hapless and drunk, Rose takes her in.

Maggie quickly wears out her welcome; borrowing your sister's Manolos and sleeping with her boyfriend are not exactly the best ways to foster sisterly goodwill. Homeless once more, Maggie hightails it to her long-lost grandmother's beachfront retirement community, sensing a wealthy relative to exploit. Of course, Maggie bonds with Grandma and learns to love the wisecracking fogies of the old folks' home, even conquering her dyslexia with the help of a bedridden professor with a penchant for poetry. After about an hour of torturous rehashing of banal "aren't old people cute?" sentiments and trite life lessons, the two siblings eventually bridge their differences and realize the importance of family – but not without a little help from Granny, of course. Could this movie be any cornier?

Diaz's character is a caricature; the vapid, wild-child stereotype is meant as a foil to Colette's wallflower, but the exaggerated generalization rings false. Diaz can't decide whether to be aloof or adorable, shallow or sentimental. She's simply too sunny for her messy, troubled character, and her brooding is too forced to be emotionally appealing. If this was supposed to be her foray into "serious acting," the results are laughable.

As the girls' conflicted grandmother, Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine adds spark to the sudsy script, but she has too little screen time to redeem the film. Similarly, Colette's performance, with all its goofy underdog charm, has potential; there's a raw honesty to her acting that counters the contrived storyline. Colette's at her best when she's wounded and self-deprecating; enter a puppy-eyed Prince Charming and a makeover, however, and Rose learns to love herself – and her character descends into a hopeless cliché, sending any redeeming cinematic potential for this film down the proverbial toilet. Ultimately, Colette succeeds only in being so painfully pathetic that she's almost likable.

One would think it wouldn't take long for this film to arrive at its very insipid conclusion; of course, everyone (surprise, surprise) lives happily ever after. One hundred and thirty excruciating minutes of buildup just isn't necessary for such a predictable finale. The storybook ending may have worked for Disney, but the concept is a little stale for Hanson. For a movie that tries so hard to be emotional and hard-hitting, there's too much fairy tale and too little realism.

With its flat dialogue straight out of a Lifetime movie, sappy sentimentality and saccharine acting, this is the kind of movie that gives the entire chick flick genre a bad name.

"In Her Shoes" (130 minutes) is rated PG-13 for profanity and some sexuality.

Allie O'Hora. Allie O'Hora is a CAP senior. If you make fun of her last name, she will kill you and make it look like an accident. More »

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