‘Chick flick’ surprises with quality characters, scenes

It’s not often that every single character in a movie adds to its quality, but that is exactly what makes it such a happy surprise when a film like that comes along.

“In Her Shoes,” based on the book of the same title by Jennifer Weiner, focuses on the lives of two very different sisters and, although it is not an ensemble film, also gives valuable screen time to the loved ones who surround them.

Successful lawyer Rose (Toni Collette) is sick of always coming to the rescue of her wild and crazy sister Maggie, played by Cameron Diaz. She’s not sick enough to stop doing it though, so when Maggie gets kicked out her father’s house by her obnoxious stepmother, Rose lets her sister crash in her Philadelphia apartment.

The sisters spend some time bonding, but soon enough Rose is trying to help Maggie put a r?sum? together so she can get a job and move out. Maggie hasn’t had the best luck in the work force though, so she spends her days trying on the many designer shoes that Rose keeps in her closet.

Maggie causes trouble for Rose and gets in the way of Rose’s daily life enough that Rose decides to kick her out once and for all. The fight that comes after isn’t pretty, but you’ll have to wait and see it for yourself.

From there, the movie splits into two storylines, one following Rose as she puts her life as a lawyer on hold to regain her happiness and the other following Maggie to Florida where she meets up with her long-estranged grandmother, played by Shirley MacLaine.

This is when Collette and Diaz really start to develop their characters based on their interaction with the supporting cast. Rose’s low self-esteem and general unhappiness are explored when she meets a new romantic interest, played by Mark Feuerstein. The development of their relationship is endearing to watch.

Not as endearing as watching Maggie crash with her grandmother, Ella, at the retirement community she lives in, though. Maggie and Ella’s relationship goes from rocky to stable with quite the ride in between. Maggie becomes friendly with more senior citizens then she’d probably ever met in her life. The scenes she shares with her grandmother’s romantic interest, best friend and a blind professor at a hospital, almost steal the entire movie.

Of course, fights shouldn’t last forever and it isn’t long before Ella tries to work her magic to fix things between Rose and Maggie. The movie doesn’t lose its energy here, or anywhere else for that matter. The interaction between Rose and Maggie is always touching and the supporting cast adds moments of laughter up until the very end.

Even though it’s based on a book that critics have labeled “chick lit,” “In Her Shoes,” is much more then a chick flick. It’s a movie about life and the meaning of relationships, in particular the bonds of sisterhood. Collette and Diaz bring excellent performances that are highlighted by their wonderful and particularly funny supporting cast, making for an overall standout film in its genre.

An added bonus for people in this area is that they will be happy to see Philadelphia spots like Rittenhouse Square featured in many of the film’s scenes.

“In Her Shoes” leaves out a lot of detail that was included in its book version, but not enough that it should disappoint any of Weiner’s fans. And for anyone who watches the movie first, be happy to know that you can see more of Rose’s and Maggie’s lives by reading the book.