If you have neither the time — nor the credit card balance — to fly to New York to see “Kinky Boots,” you can try to track down the movie.
It played here in May 2006 and this is what I wrote under the headline: ‘Kinky Boots’ walks an imaginative story line. I gave it 2.5 out of a possible 4 stars.
Watching “Kinky Boots” is like eating canned fruit packed in heavy syrup. The fruit is tasty but you wish you had bought it in light syrup or, even better, fresh from a roadside stand.
“Kinky Boots” is about a young man named Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) who inherits his father’s failing shoe factory in northern England and hits upon a cockeyed plan to save it. After coming to the rescue of a Soho drag queen and cabaret performer named Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Charlie decides there might be a market for women’s boots, stilettos and femme-fatale footwear made…. to fit men.
Charlie and Lola, who never lived up to their respective fathers’ expectations, tackle designing and making sexy shoes for men. Charlie orders his skeptical employees to set aside the brogues and oxfords they’ve produced for generations and cut and stitch flashy red leather, thigh-high boots with spiky heels.
Charlie has his eyes on introducing the line in Milan, but there’s no guarantee Cinderella will make it to the fashion ball or that the slipper will fit.
“Kinky Boots” was inspired by real-life Englishman Steve Bateman, who inherited his family’s century-old shoe company, which really did quit making loafers and start churning out funky PVC leather boots for transvestites and others. The story was turned into a screenplay by Tim Firth (“Calendar Girls”) and Geoff Deane, with Julian Jarrold making his feature film directing debut.
Ejiofor is terrific, whether in a man’s sweater and jeans or Diana Ross hair, glam gowns, arched eyebrows, painted nails and ill-fitting heels that would make a grown woman weep. The actor, who just played a New York detective in “Inside Man” and was a notorious gangster in “Four Brothers,” can sing, perform and make his eyes well with tears.
Like a shoe with good lines, the story has good bones. It’s original yet based in fact and brims with underdogs, second chances and lessons about risk-taking, the danger of prejudging someone and loyalty, on the part of employees and employer.
But it nearly buckles under the weight of trumped up spats involving Lola and Charlie’s fiancee, which stretch the movie’s length beyond its comfy fit, and enough syrup for an entire case of canned peaches.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality and for language.
And here’s a link to my interview with Edgerton at the time of the movie’s release:
Edgerton, now on screen in "The Great Gatsby":
Edgerton in "Warrior," filmed largely in Pittsburgh with Tom Hardy (and, not pictured, Nick Nolte):