The latest from "L.A. Confidental" director Curtis Hanson and writer Susannah Grant ("Erin Brockovich"), "In Her Shoes" (based on the novel by Jennifer Weiner) is a little long for its own good, but the picture works well thanks to the surprisingly good pairing of Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. The two star as Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose (Toni Collette), sisters who couldn't be more different from one another - Maggie's a flirty party girl and Rose is a straightforward lawyer.
The two sisters manage to get along fairly peacefully, although things start to get worse when Maggie is forced to move in with her sister. It begins with a boot on her car and then things reach a boiling point when Maggie falls into bed with Rose's boyfriend. She ends up packing up and heading to Florida in search of their long-lost grandmother (Shirley MacLaine), while Rose tries to pick up the pieces after Maggie's stay and start a new relationship (Mark Feuerstein, funny and underrated - he should be in more movies.)
The middle of the film has Maggie making an attempt to clean up her act while staying with her long-lost grandmother at a retirement community, while Rose learns to try and loosen up a little bit. Despite their differences (not considering looks, but more in terms of manner and personality), Collette and Diaz actually make a very good on-screen pairing and I thought they were believable as sisters. They connect well, especially in a moment in a coffee shop early on, and again in scenes later in the movie.
Just as good is the pairing of Diaz and McLaine, who play off one another superbly. MacLaine especially offers a memorable performance as a woman who wants to support the grandchild she hasn't seen in all these years. Diaz, who's been good (if not great) in the past, offers what I think certainly is one of her best - if not her best - effort yet as a shallow party girl who finally begins to change her ways.
While I was never bored (and the movie isn't entirely as chick-flicky as one would think, but it still certainly falls in that catagory), there were moments where I thought the movie could have tightened things up. 130 minutes is a bit too much for this well-directed and written (if somewhat familiar and predictable) tale, and cutting things down by a good 20 minutes would have helped. Overall, I didn't know what to expect going in, but found this to be a largely very enjoyable drama.
VIDEO: "In Her Shoes" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The preentation quality is perfectly fine, although not too terribly noteworthy. Sharpness and detail are standard, as the picture appeared a touch soft at times, although crisper during the majority of the flick.
The picture does show some minor grain and a hint or two of edge enhancement, but otherwise, looked clean. No print flaws or pixelation was noticed. Colors generally appeared accurate and natural, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "In Her Shoes" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio presentation, as one might expect, really doesn't involve the surrounds at all, nor does a drama like this really need to. Audio quality was perfectly fine, with clear dialogue and music.
EXTRAS: In terms of film-related features, there's only a few fairly brief featurettes: "The People in the Shoes", "A Retirement Community for Acting Seniors" and "The Casting of Honeybun". Located on the main menu is an "Inside Look" promo for Lindsay Lohan's upcoming "Just My Luck." As for "In Her Shoes", I would certainly have liked to have heard a commentary from the writer, the director, the actors or all three.
Final Thoughts: "In Her Shoes" is a little longer than it needs to be, but it does offer stellar performances, a very fine script and solid direction. It deserves a wider audience than it got when it was released to theaters, and hopefully more people will find the film on DVD. Fox offers a respectable DVD edition, with satisfactory audio/video and, unfortunately, minimal supplements. Recommended.
The Film B+