From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.
The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.
The only thing I’d heard about Kinky Boots when I walked into the screening Thursday morning was a log line (the owner of a nearly-bankrupt British shoe factory saves it by finding a niche market in making transvestite boots), so I didn’t really know what to expect. Less than five minutes into the movie, I knew exactly what to expect: this was Calendar Girls and its ilk all over again.
How many times can we watch a movie where a person sets a seemingly-impossible financial goal, figures out a creative and controversial way to reach it (which always results in amusing hijinks), and then gradually wins everybody over to happily triumph at the end of the film?
In this particular one, we have Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton), who has just inherited the Price & Sons shoe factory from his father. Unfortunately, nobody is buying Price’s men’s footwear and the factory is in danger of going under. Enter Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a drag queen whose shoe troubles give Charlie the idea of making sexy boots for transvestites. The problem now is getting the workers behind the idea and getting the boots to Milan in time for its biggest fashion show.
I really don’t mean to sound bitter. They’re called “feel good” movies for a reason. You watch them to see people overcome and achieve their goals, and walk out feeling all bubbly and happy inside. They’re just aiming to uplift you with a heart-warming tale and because it’s based on a true story, so much the better.
It’s just when you see these movies following the exact same formula over and over, it gets frustrating. You’re changing names and faces and settings, but the characters and situations are exactly the same. If you’re not going to try to put a new twist on it, what’s the point? I’m not asking for a reinvention of the wheel, just for something a little different.
Watching Kinky Boots I could call the plot points out a mile away. “And there’s going to be an obstacle…now. Okay, solved that one, but still haven’t hit Milan, so there’ll be another one…now. Okay…” And so it goes for just over an hour and a half.
There are pluses to the movie, however. Every time I see Chiwetel Ejiofor in a movie (somebody please email me with a pronunciation of his name so I can quit saying “the Operative from Serenity“) I like him just a little bit more. He’s always good, he’s clearly versatile, and he makes a very hot woman. Lola is loud and flamboyant and a lot of fun, having come to terms with who she (he?) is a long time ago. And when you put a loud, flamboyant drag queen in a more conservative town like Northampton (where the factory is), there tend to be funny moments.
You can probably already tell whether or not Kinky Boots is your bag just by reading the synopsis, and even though it’s a perfectly fine movie I can’t say that you absolutely have to see it on the big screen. Wait for the DVD. It won’t hurt, I promise.