In Jennifer’s Shoes

Jennifer Weiner wonders on her blog  why audiences didn’t embrace the movie version of her book, IN HER SHOES.

It wasn’t enough to make a well-crafted, beautifully written,
wonderfully acted, heartwarming, uplifting drama. If that was true,
CINDERELLA MAN would have made a hundred million dollars, and IN HER
SHOES, although cursed with a surplus of estrogen and all of the
built-in dismissiveness that comes free with the label “chick flick”
along with it, might not have been far behind.

But these days,
to actually get butts in seats, you need sex or violence, or violent
sex (or violent, furtive gay sex, a la BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN). You need
raunchy humor, a shocking surprise ending, a real-life singer’s
addiction portrayed by an actor who developed a real-life addiction.
You need a whiff of scandal – Jessica Simpson, pre-divorce; Tom Cruise,
post-couch, Brangelina. You at least need romance. Or, barring that, an
animated chicken, or a pubescent wizard (believe me, I spent a lot of
time kicking myself for not having included either in the novel).

film about relationships between women, not women and men, that
featured not much sex, very little violence, no drug use, no
dismemberment and not much to slap the clammy flab, didn’t have much of
a chance.

For the record, I enjoyed the movie. I think it failed because it was soft and, with movie-going  as expensive and hassle-filled as it is,  it didn’t offer anything you couldn’t see for free at home. I bet a lot of folks stuck it on their "wait for the DVD" list.

21 thoughts on “In Jennifer’s Shoes”

  1. Given the overpriced and underwhelming experience that is the modern movie theatre, unless a movie has some truly brilliant special effects that aren’t going to show as well on my TV, I prefer to watch from the comfort of my own home. My kids can kick my seat and talk through crucial dialogue as well as any seasoned pro, I can pause the show for bathroom breaks, and the refreshments don’t require a second mortgage.

  2. Hey man,
    I love what you wrote about what it takes to get butts in theatre seats. Now what will it take to get writer’s butts out of blog seats and writing? LOL. I *love* blogging and it seems you do too…
    Write On, Hadassah

  3. I bet a lot of folks stuck it on their “wait for the DVD” list.
    I like Jennifer Weiner’s books and chick flicks in general. But it’s true, I put this one on my “wait for DVD” list and now I regret it — I wish I would have paid theater money to see it.

  4. while i don’t want to completely downplay wiener’s concerns about this or be callous to her obvious disappointment…
    …methinks the lady kinda doth protest too much…
    …with cameron diaz, shirley macclaine and toni colette, a screenplay by callie khouri and direction by curtis hanson – this sounds like the second best of all possible outcomes for someone who optioned her work for adaptation in hollywood (the best being all of that and a successful theatrical run, obviously – the worst is a toss up between a lifetime of turnaround and the film being made… for nine hundred thousand dollars, with a non-anglophone director, on location in the hinterlands of slovakia and with a cast of wb actors too young to play their roles).
    nowadays a successful thetarical release is a wonderful thing – but clearly not the be-all end all… this film will go into heavy rotation on the pay cable channels, be a hit rental on dvd and vod, and find its audience.
    i am sure “in her shoes” was a good movie and a good novel – and quality work has a way of finding its level.

  5. I don’t get it.
    The film is still in limited release, and it’s made $32M so far. I can’t see how it could have cost nearly that much to make, and it will double that $32M in DVD rentals and sales.
    Where’s the ‘failure’ in this film’s release?

  6. I saw it (didn’t read the book) and thought it was mildly entertaining, but very cliché. The ugly but smart elder sister who is professionelly successfull, the beautiful but stupid younger sister who is a slut, and the men who love them, a very successful and good-looking guy who is shallow and a not so successful and not so good-looking guy who, of course, has his heart in the right place. And of course Shirley McLaine as the sassy grandma. Yawn. Did I forget anything?

  7. I’ve read the book and I’ve seen the movie and liked both. Mind you, we had people behind us in the theatre, who were doing THE COMPARISON right there and then (and loudly). The (mostly feminine, I gotta admitt) audience seemed to like it. My only complaint was that it was a bit too long. But when I think back of all the times I was bored out of my skull in a movie, it was mostly those that were being praised for “having great special effects”.

  8. I don’t know Weiner, but I like her books.
    However, here she sounds more like a Whiner. Get over it. Your movie was exactly what Lee said – soft. It could have been on CBS.
    But I think the biggest problem with the film was the casting of Cameron Diaz. She isn’t an intelligent enough actor to pull off these type of roles. There are many female actors that could have, not only nailed the role, but had just as much (or more) star cache as Diaz. I bet there’s a list of names who passed on the role because there wasn’t enough there.
    And Weiner says It wasn’t enough to make a well-crafted, beautifully written, wonderfully acted, heartwarming, uplifting drama. If that was true, CINDERELLA MAN would have made a hundred million dollars
    But then she says one of the things you need to get butts in seats is violence. I guess she forgot that one of the criticisms of Cinderella Man was the violence.
    And as far as A film about relationships between women, not women and men, that featured not much sex, very little violence, no drug use, no dismemberment and not much to slap the clammy flab, didn’t have much of a chance.….
    She’s bascially saying her movie has nothing more to offer than watching two women interact, and doing it without too much drama and very little humor. Sounds like she’s describing a documentary.
    People go to movies to be entertained or moved in some way – be it emotionally with heavy drama, or moved to feel good by laughing their butts off, or being inspired ala SEABISCUIT or FORREST GUMP.
    Oh, or to watch penguins walk acrosss the tundra.

  9. Or perhaps it’s this: Cameron Diaz can’t carry a movie.
    Would more people have gone if it were Julia Roberts? Gwyneth Paltrow? Whoever is female flavor of the month? Hell, are there any name brand female stars now that can carry a movie except Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock? Does Hollywood (or maybe it’s just society) give women that chance?
    Lots of fine, strong actresses, young and older. My wife and I were just talking about Kathleen Turner and Sigornie Weaver and how they don’t seem to get the roles they used to, probably because they moved past their 20s and early 30s. What about Ashley Judd? Jennifer Connelly? Dozens of others. Fine actresses, but they don’t supply the draw, for whatever reason.

  10. With a few exceptions, movies are no longer about people and their problems. They are A-list B movies — mind-candy.
    Novelists need to realize that what comes across great in a book may not always translate well to the movie screen. And even if it does, that doesn’t guarantee that our testosterone driven audiences will appreciate it.

  11. I seem to recall “Personal Best” with Ms. Hemingway too, so Weiner is just whining after great success with her chick lit books and first film. Sometimes, and hopefully moreso, the public will want substance as well.

  12. All I know is I saw the commercials for that movie and thought it looked like something I’d pay not to have to sit through. Maybe I’m completely wrong and should have given it a chance but it looked like a bunch of lukewarm female cliches–plus Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine. Ugh. Violent, furtive sex would not have helped.

  13. Never ever thought I’d say these words, but: I have to agree with kete here.
    Riddled with cliches, the same old “she’s stuffy, she’s a free spirit, they’re both misunderstood” chestnut, the quirky older character, why are they still making movies like this? I’m not saying it has to have sex or violence to entertain us dumb folk, but like Guyot says up there, it has to have something interesting or entertaining, otherwise why bother sitting through it?

  14. Two words: Poor marketing.
    I think the reason “Muriel’s Wedding” was such a success in the States was because it had a Rubenesque Toni Collette gushing on the cover. Likewise with “Real Women Have Curves” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Successes because the posters and the marketing portrayed REAL women as the center of their stories as opposed to anorexic types. Meaning women of all calibers were drawn to films that portrayed their stories.
    By contrast, the “In Her Shoes” folks put the waiflike Cameron Diaz on the front and expected women to see it. I’m guessing the film would have easily doubled its grosses had it actually been marketed as a date movie or a chickflick to female audiences by putting Toni Collette on the poster.
    This isn’t exactly rocket science. And Hollywood’s failure to market directly to women very much reminds me of how mystified they are when an African-American movie gets huge grosses. Folks, African-Americans see movies. Women see movies. Older people see movies. When a studio fails to market a quality film DIRECTLY to its audience, when it fails to get the word out and then bitches and moans about how poorly it sold, really it has nobody to blame but itself. Someone needs to tell these arrogant pipsqueaks that there are people other than white males between 15-25 who see movies.

  15. Oh good. If there’s one thing that makes stale cliches better it’s being reminded I’m not a REAL woman, as judged by my body size, and told that if the woman on the poster had had a bigger dress size it would have totally made the story more appealing to me.

  16. Well, I don’t know if I’d say I wouldn’t see a movie with Cameron Diaz on the poster because I’m not as thin as her, but I’ll admit I was dismayed that Toni Collette’s character, who is described as ‘fat’ in the book, is played by an actress who is really on the low end of normal, weight-wise. That, combined with the fact that even she is considered too unappealing to share the poster with Ms. Diaz, was enough to bias me against seeing the movie. Probably unfair of me, but hey, since when am I fair?
    Besides, I only ever go see movies where stuff gets blowed up real good.

  17. Mel,
    I think it is Monique Lhullier. (spelling could be wrong there) My wedding dress was designed by her, and i recall seeing a dress that looked very similar to that. it’s her style.

  18. does anyone know who the designer of cameron diaz’s dress from the wedding (final scene) is, or if there are any other pictures of the dress than the one that is of her and toni sitting down after the wedding? thanks


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