Brits are so famous for resolve in the face of adversity that their upper lips are regularly awarded prizes for stiffness. But in recent decades, export-market customers for British movie comedies have begun demanding dramatic gestures much bigger than mere immovability of facial features to convey fortitude. And our friends across the pond have gone daft trying to satisfy a worldwide desire to see a reserved populace get plucky. Since the growing of marijuana, the playing of brass-band instruments, and the doffing of clothes have all previously been covered as responses to financial setback, Kinky Boots offers the manufacture of footwear custom-designed for transvestites as a novel, titillating corporate response to economic downturn. The fact that this formulaically winsome movie, directed by British TV helmer Julian Jarrold, is based on product-line changes at a real Northamptonshire factory does little to freshen its approach.
The first aha! moment occurs when Charlie (Joel Edgerton, Uncle Owen from Star Wars: Episode III), ambivalent heir to his late father's unglamorous and almost bankrupt factory, meets Lola (Inside Man's Chiwetel Ejiofor, fulfilling the Great Actor requirement of doing serious drag), a brassy chanteuse in need of sturdy, sexy, man-size stiletto footwear. The second (and third, and fourth, and, alas, fifth) occurs as the podgy white factory employees learn tolerance, and even love, at the feet of a big black queen about as kinky as a tea biscuit.