Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Shoes were a ruse in 2005’s In Her Shoes, Curtis Hanson’s richly written, deeply felt and marvelously cast adaptation of Jennifer Weiner’s chick-lit phenomenon. Any eye-rolling footwear-as-metaphor stuff occurred early and in minimal measure.
Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose Feller (Toni Collette) are two sisters as good at snickering together as bickering together. When their stepmother refuses to let Maggie stay at their father’s house after a drunken night out, Rose takes her in.
Avoiding Odd Couple autopilot, Shoes uses reality to chip away chuckles at Maggie’s dim-bulb expense. Her sporadic employment and uncomfortable naivete isn’t textbook stupidity. And while Rose wants to help, she offers no handouts.
Spurred by letters from a grandmother she didn’t know existed, Maggie heads to Florida and meets Ella (Shirley MacLaine), separated from the family perhaps for good reason. As Rose’s life at home changes, she ends up joining Maggie down south.
MacLaine shrugs off her celebrity connotations as a woman who’s simultaneously thrilled and terrified at the idea of being a grandmother. In a movie full of beautiful exchanges, the best ones are the past mistakes discussed by MacLaine, Diaz and Collette. Also, it’s refreshing for a film with so many elderly figures to avoid obvious bucket-kicking payoffs.
Unafraid to let its material’s scarred-over wounds open wide, Shoes generated no shame when asking tear ducts to do the same.