All audience members may find a good fit ‘In Her Shoes’

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In Her Shoes” has all the makings of a terrific film. It is based on the best-selling “chick-lit” novel by Jennifer Weiner. It consist of a terrific cast (Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine) and a fantastic director (Curtis Hanson of “L.A. Confidential,” “Wonder Boys” and “8 Mile.”) Although it has its flaws, it definitely was not disappointing. It is also one of the better movies I have seen this year.

Diaz plays irresponsible, unemployed Maggie, who still lives at home with her father and evil stepmother. She is Cinderella gone wrong, but still manages to get through life thanks to her remarkable looks and lack of scruples.

When we first meet her, she is making out with a stranger in a bathroom stall at her high school reunion, before throwing up all over him.

Toni Collette is Rose, her straight-laced, plain-Jane older sister, who is also a successful lawyer. She is the one called in the middle of the night to pick up drunken Maggie, and we know she has been through this many times before.

The two have absolutely nothing in common except their shoe size.

When Maggie’s stepmother evicts her, she lands herself in Rose’s apartment. The sisters seem to be getting along relatively well until Maggie betrays Rose by seducing her boss’ boyfriend. This prompts Rose to kick her out and Maggie to track down their long-lost grandmother (MacLaine). The plot might sound like a bad soap opera, but what follows is a chain of events that are hilarious, touching and heartbreakingly real.

Director Hanson does not rush the story, but the writing (adapted by Susannah Grant, who wrote the script for “Erin Brockovich”) is so natural, and the performances are so assured, that “In Her Shoes” is easy to settle into.

Although Diaz tends to be cast as the beautiful ditz and Colette the geeky, “overweight” oddball (even though she is only overweight by Hollywood standards) way too often, neither actress plays the stereotype.

Diaz convincingly inverts her bubbly persona into something with dimensions far beyond “Charlie’s Angels,” while Colette is a refreshingly sympathetic loner, and perhaps a grown-up version of the lovable character she played in “Muriel’s Wedding.” Both actresses bring their characters to life in surprising and sometimes unexpected ways.

On the surface, “In Her Shoes” may seem like an odd choice for Hanson, whose previous efforts have been “guy flicks,” but it is ultimately not that far off from the relationships portrayed in his other films.

This is not a “chick flick” by any standards. It is a movie about women, but not necessarily only for women.

This is a rare film I think anyone can appreciate and relate to regardless of gender.

“In Her Shoes” feels so real, and the characters so authentic, you actually forget you are watching a movie and feel a part of these people’s lives.

This is a movie for any moviegoer wanting something a little meatier, spicier and with more emotional depth than the standard Hollywood fare.

I became so emotionally invested in each character’s lives that I did not even realize how involved I was becoming until the story was wrapping itself up. At a length of two hours and 10 minutes, this is not a short film by any standards, but the minutes flew by and I realized that I cannot wait to see the film again.

Although it is not perfect, this is a terrific film in every possible way. It consists of a superb cast, a compelling story, interesting characters and just the right blend of drama and comedy that makes “In Her Shoes” a great place to be.

I highly recommend it.

Sahag Gureghian can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu.