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The Independent Critic

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joel Edgerton, Linda Bassett, Kellie Bright
Julian Jarrold
Tim Firth, Geoff Deane
Rated PG-13
106 Mins.
 "Kinky Boots" Review 
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In its Indianapolis premiere, "Kinky Boots" was the closing night film for the 2006 Indianapolis International Film Festival. The film captured the Audience Award for Comedy at this year's festival, and is opening currently in limited release. It opens in Indianapolis on May 12th, 2006.

Directed by Julian Jarrold, whose experience prior to "Kinky Boots" has been mostly made-for-TV movies, "Kinky Boots" is one of those predictable comedies that blends a mix of naughtiness with sweetness and comes out with a feel-good story that is ever-so slightly bawdy, constantly funny, predictably heartwarming and downright entertaining.

The story, from Tim Firth and Geoff Deane, is "inspired by" a true story of a British shoe factory noted for its high quality shoes. The factory, a staple of the community of Northamptonshire, is failing when the owner does, long-gone son takes over and, after a chance encounter with a drag queen (Chiwetel Ejiofor) the factor begins making durable boots for drag queens.

Are you snickering yet? If not, then "Kinky Boots" may well not be the film for you. However, the film's sold-out film festival screening could be heard laughing hysterically throughout the film and, on occasion, even being audibly moved by various scenes.

Ejiofor, mostly known for his tough-guy and "street" cred roles, is absolutely remarkable as Lola. Quite often in films, drag queens are treated as either flawed, caricatures or as preening sissies. This stereotype is an easy out for most directors, and still gets laughs from a society who hasn't quite grasped the entire "drag queen" thing yet.

Jarrold, however, takes a different approach with Lola. Jarrold, whose previous film credits have been mostly "B" movies such as the last National Lampoon film, allows the comedy to exist between the characters instead of at the expense of the characters. Lola is seen as a strong, assertive and self-assured drag queen. Lola's sexuality is never really the focus of "Kinky Boots," but Lola as a human being is very much the focus.

Edgerton, as the straight-laced Charlie Price, is a tad more stereotypical in his portrayal of the typical stuffy Brit. Yet, he lends an uncommon sensitivity and depth to the role that is somewhat reminiscent of the characters of "Love Actually." Edgerton does a marvelous job playing a man who is torn between the good life he left behind, the loyalties of home, his rich but shallow girlfriend (Linda Bassett) and, of course, the secretly adoring factory worker (Sarah Jane Potts).

"Kinky Boots" is the sort of film that commands you to surrender your sensibilities and surrender to the energy, spirit and heart of it all. The outstanding performances of the ensemble cast, but especially that of Ejiofor, make this an easy task.

"Kinky Boots" is most likely to qualify as a guilty pleasure. Solely based upon a critical evaluation, it would most likely garner a "B" range rating, however, the film's charm, humor and easygoing spirit induced laughter, tears, smiles galore and an overwhelming happiness as I left the movie theatre. Sometimes, there's a special film where personal satisfaction becomes more important than a pure critical evaluation.

Fans of the "Working Title" films, "About a Boy," "Love Actually" and "Notting Hill" are likely to find much to enjoy from "Kinky Boots." "Kinky Boots" is the funniest film so far in 2006, and a heartwarming and inspiring film to boot.


© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic