As a best-selling novelist, Jennifer Weiner is known for the full-figure gals who populate her books, schlepping their way to happy endings. And so imagine my surprise when Toni Collette showed up in the screen version of Weiner's In Her Shoes as Rose, the supposedly larger half of a pair of sisters who both can't live with each other and can't live without each other. Somewhere in the transition from chick lit to chick flick, Rose has lost a lot of weight. Collette reportedly put on 25 pounds for the role. If so, I don't see them. Is this truly Hollywood's idea of a woman who needs to sign on with Jenny Craig?
Another problem with In Her Shoes: Weight issues aside, Collette and Cameron Diaz don't look anything like sisters. I know that's supposed to be the point. Collette's supposed to be the lumpy, frumpy one. Diaz is supposed to be the foxy one. Collette got the brain. Diaz got the bod, which ' guys who would never otherwise go near a chick flick may want to know this ' she slings from one side of the screen to the other, as if she was starring in a "Girls Gone Wild" video. But shouldn't there be some sort of genetic overlap, a couple of chromosomes in common? And what about rapport? Shouldn't they seem to have known each other a while? Not only did I have trouble buying them as sisters, I had trouble buying them as roommates.
They aren't roommates for long. Collette, fed up with Diaz's party-girl antics, her petty thievery, her winding up in bed with the only man who's gotten past Collette's defense mechanisms, gives her the boot. And the movie, which had been content to wander the streets of Philadelphia in search of a meaningful plot, starts splitting its time between Philly and Miami, where Diaz has gone to find the grandmother that neither sister knew she had. That the grandmother is played by Shirley MacLaine, an old broad from way back, gives one hope. But director Curtis Hanson, who's best known for L.A. Confidential, reportedly told MacLaine to underplay. That's like telling Hurricane Katrina to quietly peter out over the Gulf of Mexico.
MacLaine isn't bad, just underwhelming. And In Her Shoes isn't bad either, just underdeveloped. It wants to be a James Brooks movie, laughing through the tears Ã la Terms of Endearment. But Hanson shows little feeling for what women talk about when men aren't around. And the scenes in Miami are like cutting-floor rejects from "Golden Girls" episodes. I'm all for chick flicks, especially ones in which the chicks, because they happen to love food and hate exercise, have put on a few ' okay, more than a few. But pretending that 25 pounds is 50 or even 75 pounds doesn't seem like the way to go about it. Plus-size women need to see all of themselves up on the screen. What's the use of walking a mile in somebody else's shoes if one size fits all?