Bridget Jones, what have you wrought? Ever since Helen Fielding's patron saint of chick-lit showed up on the big screen, it's only been a matter of time before the carbon copies that have cluttered the bookstores made their way to the multiplex, as well. The chick-lit movie revolution officially starts with In Her Shoes, which comes with Oscar-baiting pedigree but plays out as a formulaic story designed to exploit fake female empowerment and a trend that's already run its course. As Bridget might say, it's v. v. bad.
In Her Shoes follows two sisters: Slutty, irresponsible Maggie (Diaz) drifts from job to job and boyfriend to boyfriend, relying on the indulgences of her father and stepmother, and uptight, responsible sister Rose (Collette), a workaholic lawyer with no social life. When Maggie's stepmother is tired of coddling her, Maggie ends up on Rose's couch, and the two sisters bicker over their differing life philosophies.
That alone would be enough for a feel-good movie about two polar-opposite siblings bridging their differences to realize the importance of family. But there are lots of other plots, all of which could support their own feature if fleshed out. After a nasty fight with Rose, Maggie heads to Florida and moves in with the sisters' long-lost grandmother (MacLaine, who's much better than the movie). There she takes a job at a convalescent home and learns responsibility. Rose quits her soul-sucking job to become a dog-walker, and begins a romance with a former co-worker.
Nearly all of these threads get short shrift, played up for drama and then resolved in rushed, saccharine fashion, with a heavy-handed voiceover thrown in to neatly tie things up. Bridget Jones' adventures were light-hearted wish fulfillment, but the filmmakers behind In Her Shoes clearly want audiences to think it's deep stuff about how women interact. Apparently, meaningful female bonding involves shopping for shoes, doing each other's makeup and watching Sex and the City. The normal-sized Rose is constantly derided as chubby and Maggie triumphantly overcomes her dyslexia by reading poetry to a blind old guy—clearly, women have come a long way. After Rose and Maggie have one of their many tiffs, Rose's emasculated, sensitive-guy boyfriend asks her what the fight was about. "Girl stuff," she says dismissively. Exactly.