Kinky Boots

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 04/21/06 03:46:00

"These Boots Are Made For Walking--Into Another Theater"
2 stars (Pretty Crappy)

For those of you out there who thought that “Mrs. Henderson Presents” was just too darned edgy and ribald, “Kinky Boots” should prove to be most entertaining. For the rest of us, this British import will come across as little more than a cynical attempt to cross-pollinate “The Full Monty” and “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” into a heart-warming crowd-pleaser that may one day inspire a moderately successful stage musical.

Joel Edgerton stars as Charlie, an upwardly mobile young man who inherits the failing shoe factory that has been in his father’s family for generations and struggles to keep it running against overwhelming odds. After an encounter with bold drag queen Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Charlie hits upon the idea of scrapping the standard lines of shoes in order to specialize in outrageous footwear designed for the drag queen market (complete with steel-reinforced stiletto heels). Of course, the salt-of-the-earth factory folk are shocked by both their new output and the presence of Lola and Charlie’s evil fiancee (Jemima Rooper) wants him to sell off the factory for good–I will leave you to guess whether or not the workers overcome their prejudices in time and whether or not Charlie is able to save the factory, dump the nasty fiancee and catch the eye of the sweet, supportive office girl (Sarah-Jane Potts).

As predictable as it sounds, “Kinky Boots” seems to think that it is somehow being daring and edgy just by having a drag queen as one of the main characters. In reality, the film is more on the level of an especially uninspired sitcom and I for one didn’t believe for a second that the straight-laced characters would be so stunned by the very notion of a man dressing in drag in the post-“Crying Game” era. Since it is pretty much a fait accompli how the film is going to end (you don’t really think the final scenes are going to show Charlie marrying the shrew while his former workers are forced out on the streets, do you?), the film starts throwing all sorts of artificial complications into the mix–Charlie is suddenly embarrassed and appalled by Lola’s public behavior–for no other reason than to set up the heartwarming climax where Lola appears at the last second to save the day at the big fashion show.

As much as I hate to say it, “Kinky Boots,” despite its intriguing title, is pretty much a total drag.

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