Despite the estrogen-inclined subject matter and the overused “dysfunctional family” story, Hanson fills his SHOES with well-rounded characters, complex relationships and layered plotlines—all the while successfully balancing between an effective comedy and a heartfelt drama. Toni Collette is great as usual and remains a severely underrated actress, but I was shockingly impressed with Cameron Diaz, who actually shows off her acting chops (amongst other things.) Playing a sexy, bitchy party girl isn’t a stretch, but her transition as she struggles with “growing up” was darn convincing and something I wasn’t expecting from the “eye candy” actress. Shirley MacLaine also puts in a solid turn with her sarcastic persona, but I wish she'd been given more to do. I’m kind of a sucker for movies like GRUMPY OLD MEN that sport bitter, smart-ass elderly people, and IN HER SHOES had plenty of those moments as soon as Diaz’s character moves into her grandma’s retirement community. And don’t tear up my Man Card…but I also dug on the film’s criticism of society’s typical female self image. (You super skinny girls eat a sandwich and call me!)
On the negative side, the movie ran a bit long for my tastes (over two hours) and could’ve used a trim here and there. There were also some cinematic coincidences that seemed to wrap up the conflicts too cleanly. (Cameron Diaz is dyslexic and can’t read…but she meets an old man who happens to be a teacher…and he makes her read a poem that perfectly reflects her life…amazing!) Overall though, a solid movie for girls and (non-discriminating) guys alike.
The People in the Shoes (16:12): A lengthy interview piece where cast and crew discuss why they wanted to make the film. It’s nice to hear Curtis Hanson expertly explain the ingredients of a successful character-oriented film. He also points out some of the film’s less obvious symbols you might not have noticed. (Hint: Look at the artwork. It's some deep stuff...)
A Retirement Community for Acting Seniors (11:03): Surprisingly, a lot of the “actors” in the retirement community are the actual residents. Here they introduce themselves and their thoughts on working on a movie. (“I was actually being paid to watch Cameron Diaz tease us at a swimming pool!”) A cute extra featuring some lively elderly people. (I hope I’m still that sharp when I’m 90.)
From Death Row to Red Carpet: The Casting of Honey Bun (7:40): A strangely in-depth featurette on the casting of the movie’s adorable pug-mutt, covering its rescue from the pound to it being trained to pee on command. Cute, but odd considering the dog is only in the movie for 2 or 3 scenes.
You also get an Inside Look at Lindsay Lohan’s new excuse for a film, ironically titled JUST MY LUCK.