Kinky Boots

Next to the old Price shoe factory is the same factory that pumps out these gentle British comedies. One week after On a Clear Day comes Kinky Boots, another working class crowd pleaser. This time, the setting is rural Northampton, where slow business threatens a shoe factory with closure. Charlie Price's (Joel Edgerton, Revenge of the Sith, King Arthur), family owned the business, which made quality men's shoes, for four generations. Price never intended to run the business, but the death of his father changed his plans. Once there, he realizes that he must fire some of his employees.

Kinky Boots is a story about renewal. Price learns to love the business and value his employees. Other employees learn valuable life lessons. How does this come about? Price, with the help of Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts, National Lampoon's Barely Legal, Wonderland) realizes that he needs to reinvent the business. The epiphany comes when he runs into Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Inside Man, Serenity), a transvestite with her own show in London. Price sees that Lola needs to buy women's boots, which are made differently. He thinks he can create a boot that is built for a man, dressing up as a women.

Of course, Northhampton is a sleepy conservative town far from the hustle and bustle of London. Price initially tries to hide Lola. That doesn't work. He tells the entire factory his plan. They look stunned. Worse, some employees like Don (Nick Frost, Shaun of the Dead) are overtly antagonistic towards Lola. The idea is bad enough, but when Lola unleashes her design - a red PVC boot that laces up nearly to the top, the old men and women who work there look shocked. But come on, everybody comes around. Director Julian Jarrold and writers Geoff Deane and Tim Firth (Calendar Girls, Blackball) follow all the steps in the cookie cutter screenplay, hitting all the highs and lows. Everybody knows that Price's shrill wife (Jemima Roper, A Sound of Thunder, Snapshots) stands no chance against the supernaturally cute and perky Lauren, and that Don, and the rest of the employees, will eventually come around.

The movie rises above its formula because of its characterizations. It benefits by having Ejiofor as its star. He is a charismatic actor who typically falls in the shadows of other, bigger stars. In a few short years, he has built an impressive resume, and Kinky Boots affords him the chance to really cut loose. He brings f flamboyance to Lola, but not to the point where he is just a stereotype. There is also a sense of seriousness to the Lola character. All his life he was an outcast, and that is even clearer once he makes his way to Northampton. Jarrold gives the audience a non-threatening glimpse into the world of transvestites. For his part, Edgerton does the exasperated businessman shtick fairly well. He is timid and worries too much about what others think. Both men need each other to improve aspects of their lives. Will it happen? Duh. Predictable? Yes. But Kinky Boots is a crowd-pleaser.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 46 minutes, Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, and for language.

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