In Her Shoes

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Maggie May (Cameron Diaz) and Rose (Toni Collette) Feller may have been best friends all their lives, but the sisters are also polar opposites, as different from each other as night and day. Head-turner Maggie is an amoral, academic underachiever who always relied on her womanly wiles and sticky fingers to get whatever she wants. Her older sister Rose, on the other hand, is a relatively mature Plain Jane who excelled in school but never had much luck when it came to guys.

As a result, Rose is enjoying a flourishing career at a Philadelphia law firm while her ne’er-do-well sibling is still living at home and chronically unemployed. Yet, what binds the two together is a scarring childhood trauma which ripped the rest of their relatives apart.

For their mom perished in a suspicious car accident when Maggie was only six, and their maternal grandmother, Ella (Shirley MacLaine) reacted by blaming her son-in-law, Michael (Ken Howard), for her daughter’s untimely death. Their dad responded by ending all contact with that side of the family, and by misleading his little girls into believing that Ella had also passed away.

To make matters worse, today, Michael is remarried to Sydelle (Candace Azzara), a selfish shrew who clearly favors her own daughter, Marcia (Jackie Geary), over her step-daughters. And when Maggie shows up drunk in the middle of the night after an impromptu liaison with a cute classmate (Anson Mount ) at her 10th high school reunion, Marcia seizes on the lush’s inebriated state as an excuse to throw her out of the house.

Against her better judgment, Rose comes to the rescue, allowing her little sister to crash at her place, never suspecting that the shameless flirt would even think about seducing Jim (Richard Burgi), the handsome hunk she has just started a relationship with. But after catching them in a compromising position, she decides that such a transgression is unforgivable, and kicks Maggie out on the spot.

This over-plotted point of departure sets up the convoluted premise of In Her Shoes, as messy a dysfunctional family drama as any soap opera fan could hope to find. Directed by Oscar-winner Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential), the movie is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Jennifer Weiner.
As adapted to celluloid, the sisters’ seismic sibling rivalry sits at the center of the story, though the attention-deficit production is littered with far too many secondary themes and supporting characters to keep track of, a common problem encountered in bringing books to the big screen. For when Maggie relocates to Florida, she moves in with her long-lost grandma, finally finding her purpose in life working with the very colorful residents of this overpopulated retirement community.

Simultaneously, back in Philly, morose Rose finds herself being chased by Simon (Mark Feuerstein), a patient suitor who isn’t bothered by the fact that his former colleague has quit her prestigious position at the firm to become a professional dog walker. While waiting for Simon to pop the question, the innumerable loose ends are addressed to ensure that their storybook wedding will be attended by an estranged sister, an absentee grandmother, an evil step-mom, a weak-willed father, plus plenty of the entertaining second bananas we’ve gotten to know along the way. Cluttered and predictable, but laced with laughs and enough of an emotional payoff to make it all worthwhile.

Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sex, expletives, and mature themes.
Running time: 130 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

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