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Ghost Canyon

'Kinky Boots'
(Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, et al / DVD / PG-13 / (2005) 2006 / Miramax)

Overview: Charles Price may have grown up with his father in the family shoe business, but he never thought that he would take his father's place. Yet, the untimely death of his father places in that position, only to learn that Price & Sons Shoes is failing. While in despair at his failed attempts to save the business, Charles has a chance encounter with the flamboyant drag queen cabaret singer, Lola. Her complaints about the inadequate footwear for her work combine with one of Charles' ex-employee's, Lauren, suggestion to change the product to create a desperate chance to save the business; make men's fetish footwear.

DVD Verdict: Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) has a problem. His Dad has died, leaving him a quality shoemaking business in Northhampton which is slowly but surely going under. All those men's shoes, made with care by dedicated employees, simply can't find a market anymore in the face of imported cheaper goods. Charlie is a good-hearted fellow, trying to do the right thing, but just doesn't know how. He has a fiancee who is a bit of a money-loving property developer in London who wants him to sell the factory. His employees all need their jobs. He hates to let them down...and let them go. What should he do? This being a feel-good, titillating, rainbow-at-the-end-of-the-movie kind of movie, why, Charlie encounters Lola, a big, black, cross-dressing song-and-dance man played with great style and verve by Chiwetel Ejiofor. And between the two of them they start to design (Lola) and build (Charlie) a whole new line of...well, kinky boots, long leather strutters that go up almost to the armpit, straight-sewn flashy gadabouts with stilettos as heels that would have all those Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Barbara Streisand impersonators gnashing their teeth to wear. Just zipping these things up might get you arrested. Because this is a feel-good movie, suitable for middle-aged couples to view holding hands, there are life lessons to be learned about mutual understanding and acceptance. There also are at least three conclusions at the end, the most flagrant taking place at a shoe show in Milan. Charlie had shown nervousness at being with Lola at a sedate restaurant. Lola, hurt, has left the factory and returned to his nightclub, where he wows the clientele with unsubtle versions of Cole Porter's Let's Do It. Charlie, his new girl friend (he and his fiance split) and a steady old hand from the factory, now must display the boots on the runway without Lola and her flash. So Charlie, with a suit on from waist up, dons those kinky boots and only manages to fall on his face in front of everyone. But wait...what's that music? It's Lola in full drag, wearing a pair of boots which defy description, backed up by his singing and dancing drag queens from his night club, all prancing and dancing down the runaway. The boots are a hit in Milan! We know the orders will start pouring in. Lola gives up his singing and dancing, but not, we think, his cross dressing, to design more boots. Charlie's factory is saved; the employees keep their jobs. Charlie has learned understanding and acceptance. And Lola is learning to accept who he is. Charlie's marriage to his girl friend can only be months away. If you like this sort of thing, you may find it bearable. The director gave us Calendar Girls not too long ago, another feel-good movie. Calendar Girls' obviousness was redeemed by two great performances from Helen Mirren and Julie Walters. With Kinky Boots, we have an attractive, puzzled performance from Edgerton. But we also have a tour de force from Ejiofor. In full drag, backed by singers and dancers, he gives at least four numbers at the nightclub singing, strutting and challenging anybody who doesn't like his style. Yes, Lola is misunderstood and, yes, Lola had an unhappy childhood. Ejiofor carries off the role with complete confidence. He's edgy but sympathetic. He never winks at the us. If you saw him in Dirty Pretty Things or Inside Man, you're in for an acting revelation. On balance, I think the movie is too predictable and manipulative as it tries to pull our emotional strings. Still, it may be worth seeing just to experience Ejiofor's versatility. And I'm told his name is pronounced Chew-i-tell Edge-o-for. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary by: Director Julian Jarrold and stars Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sarah-Jane Potts
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Julian Jarrold
"The Real Kinky Boots Factory" featurette
"Journey of a Brogue" featurette