Kinky Boots
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: TJ McDonald & Noor Razzak (22nd September 2006).
The Film

According to the DVD cover, if I loved "The Full Monty" (1997) and "Calendar Girls" (2003) then I would love "Kinky Boots". At first I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, if my opinion of Julian Jarrold's latest little English comedy had already been set by the guys who write tag lines, then this review would be child's play, right? Unfortunately, it wasn't so easy I was a tad intoxicated when I watched "The Full Monty" and I have never seen "Calendar Girls", so what would my opinion of "Kinky Boots" be? I would have to watch it and find out. I had read the plot outline, and it was with a degree of ambivalence that I pressed the play button. Oddly enough, as the end credits rolled, my opinion still resided in the ambivalent region it had inhabited since the start of the film.
Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) is a small town English lad who moves to London to get away from Northampton and the Shoe Factory which has been in his family for generations. But the death of his father brings him back to his home town and burdens him with a company that can no longer compete in the global shoe market. If only Charlie could meet a drag queen and realize the potential niche market of men who wear women's shoes. Enter Lola (Chjwetel Ejiofor), a cabaret singing transvestite who starts a business partnership with Charlie. But will Lola encounter xenophobia in this small English town? And, more importantly, is there a podgy English lout who can represent this narrow-minded attitude, but who ultimately becomes accepting in the end? Enter Don (Nick Frost). Oh, and did I mention the love triangle? Will Charlie ultimately end up with a) his girlfriend Melanie (Linda Bassett) cynical and cold, or b) his workmate Lauren (Sarah Jane Potts) supportive and hot? You decide.
As you may have guessed from the above synopsis, the major weakness of "Kinky Boots" is its predictability. As is the way with most feel good films, every twist and turn of the plot can be seen from a mile away. Early in the piece the credits boast that the film is based on a true story, but one feels the need to ask: How much has that tale been shaped and tailored – like a pair of fine shoes – to conform to the standard story requirements of a feel-good comedy?
I feel compelled to admit through, that a predictable plot is a cornerstone of the feel-good genre and it is too cynical to measure this film by that standard. Instead, films like this should be judged in the light of the themes they address and the depths to which they tackle those themes. "Kinky Boots" joins the proud tradition of many UK comedies that are prepared to look at more uncomfortable social issues; delving into the topics of transvestitism and xenophobia, and ultimately what it means to be a man in the modern world. Although at times, these issues are almost lost under the weight of cliches, in the end the subjects are developed with a degree of depth and maturity that marks this film apart from the more run-of-the-mill titles in this genre. In saying that, it is not prepared to push as far as "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", but the tag line probably deserves a better comparison than "The Full Monty" and "Calendar Girls".
Ejiofor's performance is absolutely stunning (but then, when isn't he?). He brings to the screen a fleshed-out personality that neatly sidesteps the often cliched feeling of a transvestite character and allows us to connect with both his long-held aches and his joy. He was truly a pleasure to watch. Edgerton's performance was also impressive. His growing frustration in particular was expressed well over the course of the film. The remaining characters were all essentially walking stereotypes – as is common in this type of film which was unfortunate as if meant the actors all gave rather bland performances. the female leads in particular were disappointing.
"Kinky Boots" is ultimately exactly what you would expect it to be; a quiet comedy designed to give you the warm fuzzies. The predicable plot is tempered by thematic elements that are slightly more daring than is common in Hollywood counterparts and strong performances as well as a smattering of great lines keep this film from being consigned to the 'wait for TV' pile. Definitely rent this film, but wait till it's off the overnight shelf and don't expect to finish the film surprised just smiling.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this anamorphic transfer is good but not as good as it could have been. While the image is sharp and presents color vividly I still found that edge-enhancement was a problem and that too many shots had annoying halos around people. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is consistent, I did notice some compression artefacts but this was not entirely distracting. Overall it's an better than average representation of the film.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included for this film, in English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English sound track. I was rather impressed with this effort, considering this is a lighthearted comedy of sorts I found that the surround channels were put to excellent use, dialogue was clear and distortion free, music is rendered beautifully throughout the sound space. Overall it was a pleasing experience.
Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment have included an audio commentary, a short featurette, some deleted scenes, a montage clip plus a collection of bonus trailers for this release. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by director Julian Jarrold and cast members Joel Edgerton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Sarah-Jane Potts. This track is as lighthearted as the film is itself, the group discuss various aspects of the production although focusing more on the cast and certain scenes, the director comments on the performances as well as the difficulty in shooting in a real shoe factory. The cast share their stories and experiance in making the film, overall I was a little dissapointed in this track as the participants didn't reveal enough about the making of the production as I'm used to from hearing better commentaries. They didn't focus too much on the technical aspects but I can't image that a general fan of this film would be interested in hearing about that.

Next up is a short "The Real Kinky Boots Factory" featurette whcih runs for 14 minutes 32 seconds, this is a standard EPK style clip that takes us through the genesis of the film, the casting and the filmmakers talk about various aspects of the production as well as working closely with the real man behind the factory and in creating the kinky boots for Chiwetel Ejiofor. A brief history of the actual factory is also covered among other things.

4 deleted scenes follow with optional audio commentary by Julian Jarrold, these scenes can be viewed individually or with the option of a 'play all' function. The scenes included are:

- "Are You A Dorothy" which runs for 45 seconds, a factory worker asks Lola if he/she is a 'Dorothy' implying whether he is a pre-op or post-op transvestite.

- "Hillside" runs for 2 minutes 22 seconds. In this scene Charlie and Nicole overlook the town as they talk of the possibility of having to sell the factory.

- "Prettiest Star" runs for 2 minutes 14 seconds. Lola dances to a Bowie song as she remembers her dad, later she performs for at his retirement home in front of a crowd and finally comes out to him.

- "Charlie and Nicole In Factory" runs for 2 minutes 7 seconds, in a now empty factory floor they resolve some of their issues.

Next up is a "Journey of a Brogue" montage running for 1 minute 20 seconds, this clip takes us through the manufacturing process of making a pair of the standard brown shoe.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers which are all start-up previews and can be skipped for:

- "Goal! The Dream Begins" which runs for 2 minutes 33 seconds.
- "Stick It!" which runs for 2 minutes 35 seconds.
- "The Miracle Match" which runs for 43 seconds.
- "The Heart Of The Game" which runs for 2 minutes 12 seconds.
- Anti-piracy spot which runs for 47 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: B- Audio: A Extras: C+ Overall: B

 


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