KokkieH Reviews Kinky Boots

We don’t watch television that much.  We don’t have satellite  (it’s just not worth the cost and we don’t have cable in SA) and the public broadcaster in South Africa is not worth watching most of the time (unless you really like soapies, infomercials local rip-offs of various reality shows and unscripted teen chat shows).  We pay our TV licence like good law-abiding citizens, but we don’t really get our money’s worth.  But sometimes the SABC surprises us with a worthwhile offering.

Kinky Boots movie poster
Source: IMDb

Last Friday was such an occasion.  The DVD we were watching was finished and I flicked through the three channels to see if maybe anything was on.  That’s how I came across Kinky Boots.

Based on a true story, Kinky Boots (2005) revolves around Charlie Price, played by Joel Edgerton, who inherits his father’s Northampton shoe factory.  But the factory is in serious financial trouble and Charlie has to start laying people off, some of whom had been working for his father since the factory got started.  Most of them take it with typical British stoicism, but Lauren, played by Sarah-Jane Potts, challenges him to do something to save the factory instead.

Searching for inspiration, Charlie head for London where he runs to the aid of a women being harassed by a couple of men but he gets knocked unconscious.  He wakes up in a dressing room and meets Lola, a singer at a Soho drag club and alter-ego of Simon, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Lola from Kinky Boots holding a burgandy boot
The first prototype. Lola isn’t impressed.
Photo credit: Miramax films

When Lola mentions the problem of her shoes’ heels breaking Charlie realises that it’s because high-heeled shoes aren’t made for men’s weight distribution and, with Lola’s help, starts to design a line of fetish footwear for men.  The laid-off employees are promptly re-hired, but they no longer trust their new boss and the male employees, especially tough guy, Don (Nick Frost) also struggle to come to terms with the presence of Lola/Simon in their midst, not to mention Charlie himself.

As Charlie pushes his employees harder and harder, trying to get a new line of boots done in time for Milan Fashion Week tensions mount.  Charlie’s girlfriend, Nicola, doesn’t help as she tries to convince him to sell the factory so they can afford a nice place in London.  It seems Charlie’s endeavour is doomed to failure as he unwittingly pushes away his staff, his girlfriend, and even Lola, only Lauren sticking with him no matter what.

I have theory that certain types of movies cannot be bad.  For example, I have yet to see a football movie that I don’t like (and we don’t even have football in SA).  Another is movies featuring drag queens (NOT men in drag, e.g. Mrs Doubtfire and Big Momma’s House).  From The Bird Cage to Connie & Carla, I simply love drag queen movies and Kinky Boots was no exception.

Lauren wearing red boots sitting on Charlie's lap (from Kinky Boots)
Charlie and Lauren
Photo Credit: Miramax Films

It’s pretty standard fare as far as British romcom goes.  Luckily I love British romcom.  The story is overall well-written with a good balance between serious and light-hearted.  The humour has that natural feel to it that the Brits are so good at achieving and nowhere do you get the feel they’re doing something simply to get laughs.  The characters are also very realistic (even the shallow ones) and the actors manage to make us believe they are actual people.

Charlie immediately captures our sympathy.  He has obviously been thrown in the deep end and is trying his best to do what he thinks is the right thing.  He messes up royally more than once, but in the end he finds the courage to do what needs to be done.

Our hearts also go out to Lola as she struggles to be accepted in the conservative Northampton community, but as it turns out there are really very few who actually have a problem with her and she ultimately becomes the force which draws Charlie and his employees closer to each other.

No drag-queen film would be complete without some music, and Kinky Boots is no exception – it has in fact since been turned into a musical as well.  Apart from the background music found in any film we are treated to quite a few song-and-dance numbers by Lola and fellow queens including such immortal classics as Yes Sir I Can Boogie and one of the best renditions of These Boots Are Made For Walking that I have heard.

Kinky Boots Soundtrack Cover
Source: IMDb

The wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Kinky Boots and I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

For the sake of avoiding spoilers I’m not going to include a video clip of These Boots Are Made For Walking from the film, but enjoy the original music video by Nancy Sinatra below.  Gotta love the sixties, hey?

10 thoughts on “KokkieH Reviews Kinky Boots

    1. What I like about British comedy is that you need a modicum of intelligence to be able to get the joke and there’s always a deeper story behind the joke. The majority of Hollywood comedies are just a combination of hysterics and melodrama with some bodily functions thrown in. Even British farce tend to be better than most US offerings. And the Americans simply don’t get black humour. Take the original (British) Death at a Funeral and the American remake, for example.

  1. I loooooooooooooove Kinky Boots! It’s one of my ‘go to’ films when I’m feeling down. Chiwetel Ejiofor is amazing in everything he’s in and I love him as Lola. I nearly die laughing every time I see that scene that starts with Lola saying ‘Please tell me I didn’t inspire something burgundy’. It’s a brilliant movie. I don’t even know how many times I’ve watched it now. Great post!

    1. Thanks. That first boot scene is brilliant. My favourite line is “The sex is in the heel!” He’s definitely one of the best drag queens I’ve seen in a film. When he’s Lola one has to look carefully to see it’s a dude and he has a great singing voice.

    1. Yes, I mention it in the post. Sadly not many musicals get produced in SA and none where I live – have to drive to Johannesburg to see a show. Luckily we got to see Phantom of the Opera last year and we’re going to watch Sunset Boulevard in October. Oh, yeah. The ones that make it over here tend to be by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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