Walk to the theater in someone else’s shoes

With an opening scene of Cameron Diaz having sex in the bathroom, a viewer may be tricked into thinking that Curtis Hanson’s In Her Shoes is not your typical chick flick. However, a story about two sisters who are opposites in every sense of the word, who both transform only to grow closer in the end, can only mean one thing – lots of girls in the movie theater.

In Her Shoes, based on the novel by Philadelphia native Jennifer Weiner, is a chick flick with a twist worth seeing if for nothing else than its filming location in Philadelphia. Sisters Rose and Maggie Feller (Toni Collette and Cameron Diaz) clash when Maggie moves into Rose’s apartment. Rose is an intelligent, homely lawyer with a non-existent sex life.

This is demonstrated comically early in the film when Rose snaps a picture of her one-night stand while he is sleeping next to her for proof that the event happened. Rose’s sister, Maggie, on the other hand, is a walking sex symbol (or falling sex symbol when she is drunk) who can’t hold down a job due to her low self-image due to dyslexia.

The only thing the sisters have in common is the same shoe size. Rose may be the one who can afford the shoes – but like her own beauty – allows them to rot away in her closet. Meanwhile, Maggie, relevant to her own fixation on splendor and partying, wears the shoes excessively until they are damaged.

Cheesy? Maybe. Yet, the viewer is somehow able to feel for and to be entertained by these characters.

When Maggie is excitedly auditioning for an MTV VJ position, the one thing she believes she can be good at, she is unexpectedly confronted with reading from a TelePrompTer.

This reconfirms that her learning disability blocks her path in every decision she makes. Similarly, the audience feels for Rose when she comes home to find her apartment scattered with booze, food and her sister in bed with Rose’s new potential boyfriend (that’s right, the one-night-stand). The plot takes an interesting turn when Maggie discovers her long-lost grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine) down in Florida, and decides to pay her an unexpected visit after being kicked out by Rose. Maggie sticks out like a sore thumb at first, flaunting around in a bikini in her grandmother’s retirement community. Many new, humorous characters are introduced and eventually help Maggie discover her true self.

While the girls’ grandmother is trying to win Maggie over with “Sex and the City parties,” Rose is making some transformations of her own that include dramatically quitting her job to become a full-time dog walker and dating a genuine man with a comical obsession with food.

In the end, both women grow up in different ways, come to terms with their past, discover the family secret of their hidden grandmother and form a newfound respect for one another. The scenes that take place in Rittenhouse Square, on South Street and even at a Sixers game are also a refreshing switch from the typical filming locations of New York City and Los Angeles.

Of course, the film is not without faults. Those who have read In Her Shoes will discover the movie cuts out some crucial scenes. Nevertheless, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll indeed call it a chick flick. But it’s a pretty good one.

Bridget Maxwell can be reached at Br1dgetm@temple.edu.

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