“Chick flick” is a term that earns much derision, just like “chick lit” or “romance novel.” Heck, just the term “chick” is a bit insulting. It implies something shallow and fluffy and happy, perhaps dealing with designer clothes or silly guy problems or PMS. It implies yet another unrealistic, predictable romantic comedy. The mere mention of a chick flick is usually enough to send guys running for the hills or the nearest available taxi.
Calling In Her Shoes a chick flick is doing it a disservice. It makes it sound like it has no substance in it, nothing worthwhile. Truth be told, it’s heartwarming without being hokey, deeper than most movies that came out this summer, and actually gives me hope that things in life can turn out okay.
Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie (Cameron Diaz) are sisters and total opposites. Rose is the older, responsible lawyer while Maggie is the younger party girl who can barely hold down a job. When they have a huge fight, Rose kicks Maggie out and Maggie heads to Florida to meet Ella (Shirley MacLaine), the grandmother the girls never knew they had.
The above synopsis is only about the first 30 minutes of the movie. Rose and Maggie’s fight is the catalyst for the rest of the film, the burning of a bridge that will result in the building of a myriad of others. The rest of the movie is watching the sisters take the same inner journey despite their physical separation, and maybe getting to the point where they’re both happy, functioning human beings.
I know that Cameron Diaz has made her name as a comedic actress, but I actually prefer her in dramas. Here she’s great as Maggie, the character who changes the most in the story. Maggie’s unemployed, uninvolved, and uneducated. She lies and steals and never thinks about how others may feel. She has convinced herself that her looks are all she has going for her, and she uses them to their fullest potential. Diaz does a fantastic job, making Maggie’s growth believable every high-heeled step of the way.
Toni Collette’s Rose makes the opposite journey, learning to be not only more outgoing and confident, but also finding what it is in life that holds her together. It may not be as marked a change as Maggie, but it’s still an important one.
Shirley MacLaine is amazing, as she always is. She was one of two high points in Bewitched (a movie whose mere mention makes my blood boil). She’s more understated in this movie, as a woman who’s got more than a few regrets in her past and is learning that perhaps it’s never too late to make things right.
This movie is about the relationships that define us: parents and children, grandmothers and grandchildren, boyfriends and girlfriends, and (of course) sisters. These are the people who drive us crazy but we can’t live without all the same. And hopefully, no matter how damaged these relationships become, there’s always a chance that we can rebuild them.