In Her Shoes Curtis Hanson

Despite the promising and unlikely collaboration of director Curtis Hanson, writer Susannah Grant and actresses both hot (Cameron Diaz), good (Toni Collette) and legendary (Shirley MacLaine), In Her Shoes crashed and burned when it found its way to theatres last fall. Perhaps Shoes was really more suited for the small screen. Though the story contains a lot of warmth and often feels like a poignant and well-made ode to familial relationships, it leaves us questioning its cinematic purpose and whether or not it was better suited to HBO or, gulp, Lifetime? Hanson (L.A. Confidential, 8 Mile) continues to expand his already diverse oeuvre. Shoes is as far from 8 Mile as a follow-up could be. Diaz and Collette play Maggie and Rose Feller, two very different yet hopelessly co-dependent sisters. Maggie sleeps around and avoids employment, while Rose works at a well-regarded law firm and eats too much. Their dysfunctional "odd couple" situation is threatened when Maggie sleeps with one of Rose's rare suitors, sending her to stay with their estranged grandmother, Ella (a lovely MacLaine in a subtle performance that easily steals the movie). This climax throws the story into a web of life questioning and predictably wraps it into a nice, neat ball of sentiment. In Her Shoes is a surprisingly small and intimate character study when it isn't trying too hard. The script has some great lines and Hanson gets some wonderful performances out of his actresses: Collette is lovely in her characteristic role as the ugly ducking, and Diaz finds vulnerability in her usual role as the bimbo with a hidden heart. But more often than not the film is ridiculously sentimental, handling subplots with the grace of, well, a movie of the week (from Maggie's illiteracy to Ella blaming herself for her daughter's death). Every theme and message becomes too obvious, right down to the blatant metaphor of shoes as women. But at least it's well intentioned and in the comfort of your living room, it's hard not to be emotionally moved, even if you find yourself irritated at the fact that you are. The DVD offers basically nothing in the way of extras, except three poorly made "featurettes" about the making of the film and, of all things, the casting of the dog in the film. Skip them, but if you're feeling a little cheesy, the movie itself isn't so bad. (Fox)