Knight at the Movies ARCHIVES
Whatever Lola wants Lola gets in an engaging and comfortably predictable new British comedy
The British certainly do love their movies focused on the naughty bits and now after The Full Monty, Calendar Girls and Mrs. Henderson
Presents comes Kinky Boots. Though it doesn’t feature the essential take it off scene, the sexually alluring footwear of the title
certainly suggests illicit sex. But the naughty factor begins and ends there and like its comedic forebears, Kinky Boots is less about
titillation (they’re all as “daring” as a 1950s copy of Playboy) and more about Second Chances in Life. In some ways this likeable
little film is my favorite of that bunch because the life lessons come courtesy of a drag queen. And what a drag queen!
Lola (portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor in a head turning performance) is first glimpsed at the outset of the film dancing with abandon on
a dock near the sea in a pair of illicit red shoes. We’re not sure if we’re watching a boy or a girl dance with such glee until a man
says with obvious disdain, “Come boy.” From there we jump forward to the story of Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton – a dead ringer for
the young Albert Finney), who is the last in line of the Price & Sons shoemaking concern in conservative Northampton. When
Charlie's father dies he quickly discovers that the factory is close to bankruptcy.
Through a myriad of plot complications Charlie ends up in the dressing room of the drag queen bar in London where the now grown
Lola is the headliner. Suddenly inspiration strikes – Charlie’s factory will make spiked heel boots for drag queens! The skeptical
Lola shoos him away but nevertheless struts into the factory one afternoon at the appointed time (nothing like a pair of free
shoes…) but upon seeing the prototype which are burgundy colored screams, “Burgundy!!!! They must be red! They need to be 2 ½
feet of sex! The sex is in the heel!” Before you can say “RuPaul” the job of designing the proper footwear is taken over by Lola.
Then it’s either sell the factory or sell stiletto boots and once that’s decided, will the big show in Milan turn the tide for the tiny
factory? Along the way, naturally, there will be subplots: will Charlie’s fiancée stick it out? Will Lola be insulted and have to prove
that underneath the glittery frocks, drag queens are Real Men and have feelings, too? Naturally, an 11th hour crisis will have to be
averted before triumph can be assured.
Everything in Kinky Boots seems to arrive right on schedule but I found the movie’s predictability a comfort, loved the performances
(especially Ejiofor’s as Lola who gives the character equal parts bravado and insecurity), and in a contest between America’s gross
out comedies and these British naughty bit jollies, well for me, there’s just no contest. I’ll take the kink every time.
Another Naughty Bit Jolly:
4-19-06 Knight at the Movies/Windy City Times Column
By Richard Knight, Jr.