Don’t panic, dudes. Curtis Hanson, the director of 8 Mile, L.A. Confidential and other guy films, is here to guide you through this sexy, touching and astringently funny adaptation of Jennifer Weiner’s chick-lit best seller In Her Shoes. Right off, we see Cameron Diaz, her tootsies encased in black patent-leather stilettos, getting banged breathless standing up in a restroom. Diaz’s character, Maggie Feller, wants the shoes to enjoy a night of “scandal and passion” instead of collecting dust in the closet of her overweight sister, Rose (Toni Collette), a Philadelphia lawyer who buys expensive heels she’d never think of wearing.
Talk about shoes as character — Maggie is the hottie, Rose is the smarty. Luckily, Susannah Grant’s clever script has more in mind than turning the movie into the biggest bonanza for shoe freaks since Sex and the City. Hanson finds something universal about sibling rivalry in this story of sisters who fail to connect. Maggie has self-esteem issues stemming from reading disabilities. Rose’s body issues have made her an introvert who won’t have sex with the lights on. The two women also share the agony of their mother’s suicide as well as a father (Ken Howard) who lives to shield them from it. The hard truth comes from Ella (Shirley MacLaine), the grandmother they never knew until Maggie finds her in a Florida retirement community and decides to mooch off her. Diaz and Collette are sensational, and MacLaine — underplaying to marvelous effect — does her best acting in years. But it’s Hanson’s astute directing that makes the film’s life lessons go down painlessly, turning the smartly entertaining In Her Shoes into a comfy fit for both sexes.