Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

What do you get when cross ‘To Wong Fu’ with, heck I don’t know, ‘Gung Ho’?  I think you get something similar to ‘Kinky Boots’, a predictable, retread, unoriginal British comedy that is quite entertaining when all is said and done, but only unique in the fact it centers on a transvestite.  Ooops, I mean a Drag Queen.  There is a difference between the two I have learned.


Joel Eggerton is Charlie Price, heir to the family owned, community based Price shoe factory in cozy North Hampton England.  Charlie has no desire to continue in the shoe business and has moved to London with his fiancée start a new life, but when his father unexpectedly dies, Charlie is forced to come home and run the business.  It’s not a good climate for expensive hand made shoes unfortunately.  When a distributor shows Charlie a cheaply made imported shoe, Charlie laments to the distributor that the buyer of that shoe will be back in 8 months to buy another pair.  The distributor simply replies, ‘exactly’.


A chance meeting with the drag queen Lola, (Chiwetal Ojiofor, last seen as Denzel Washington’s most masculine partner in ‘Inside Man’.) inspires Charlie to change the business and start making niche shoes for men who liketo dress as women.  Because I’m sure you know how hard it is to find a size 13 pump that can support your 290 pound ass.  So of course we place our drag queen in ultra conservative North Hampton where misconceptions ensue, conflicts occur and then acceptance as we understand that under the eyeliner were all just folks.

Now before you go running off screaming ‘oh my GOD!  Another gay movie!’  Let me tell you that I’ve seen Sylvester Stallone movies that were gayer that this one.  Even though there were transvestites… damn, I mean drag queens all over the place, the only sexual tension in the movie was between men and women.  There was even a scene were Ojiofor, now dressed as man, was dirty dancing with Charlie’s lovely assistant, Lauren (Sarah-Jane Potts) in a most suggestive way.  Even though drag queen Lola wore a dress, high heels, Diana Ross wigs, mascara and walked with a swish I can’t even tell you for certain that the character was gay.  They never addressed it, he never talked about it and the only hint of any sexuality from the character was when he was dancing with Lauren, who’s female.  So I figure this keeps the movie in a perceived viewer safe PG-13 ‘Will and Grace’ mode.


So the cars have to be ready by midnight or they’ll shut down plant, or the dance sequences have to be ready by opening night or they’ll close the club, Or the cheerleading routines have to be ready by opening day or you’ll lose the competition (A ‘Bring it On’ reference.  mmmmm, bring it on…)  Here, the shoes have to be ready for Milan or they’ll close the plant.  Tensions rise, conflicts ensue, problems occur, Oh My.  Will they make it in time?  I’m not gonna spoil it for you.  Charlie and Lola have a big fight before the show!  Will they make up in time for the show to go on?  I’m not gonna spoil it for you.  Charlie and Lauren seem to be attracted to each other.  Will they get together?  I’m not gonna spoil it for you.  Yeah, it’s kind a like that.


 But if you go to the movies expecting to see fresh original ideas, then stop going to the movies NOW!  Ojiofor is great as the sassy but extremely vulnerable Lola.  Apparently he does all of his own singing and dancing here as well.  He makes for one ugly chick though, only outdistanced in ugliness by Ving Rhames in ‘Holiday Heart’ (THAT was one ugly chick.  For real).  There are a lot of really funny bits with the whole stranger in a strange land routine and the movie has a really good heart.  Combine that with great pacing, cinematography and the overly epic movie score (they really make building shoes seem… majestic.), and ultimately you have an enjoyable movie.  So if you’re going to retread something, then you may as well retread it well and ‘Kinky Boots’ retreads quite well thank you.

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