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Film / Kinky Boots

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"I don't know what you're used to making here, Charlie-boy, but now you're makin' sex! Two and a half feet of irresistible, tubular sex!"

Kinky Boots, a 2005 British comedy-drama film named for the song of the same name by the actors from the old 1960s show The Avengers, is the story of Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton), who inherits his father's shoe factory upon his death.

Unfortunately, industry is putting the old-fashioned factory under and his dad's old friends, whom Charlie has known since childhood, out of work. Charlie doesn't really want to keep the factory nor does he exactly feel right letting the factory fail, but old wingtips aren't going to cut it.

Enter Lola (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a 6-foot-5, black Drag Queen, who—after rescuing Charlie from the mugger from whom Charlie attempted to rescue her—wants Charlie to make footwear for Drag Queens.

The only way for the factory to have a shot at this niche market is to make a splash at the Milan Shoe Expo. Charlie has to persuade the conservative people of his factory to get on board with this rather offbeat plan and raise enough money to get them to Milan, all while struggling with running the factory, dealing with his marriage, and trying to cope with the cognitive dissonance working with Lola is causing him.

A musical Screen-to-Stage Adaptation, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, opened on Broadway in 2013 and went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.

The film features examples of the following tropes:

  • Accidental Public Confession: Lauren has been falling in love with Charlie but makes nice with his fiancée anyway, runs into said fiancée and mentions with sincere appreciation that he put their house up for mortgage in order to save the factory. Nicola didn't know and is - quite reasonably - less than pleased that he kept it from her. Lauren is mortified; she had no idea Charlie hadn't discussed it with Nicola first.
    • There's also the fight that ensues after that scene. Nicola asks Charlie for a reason he mortgaged the house. He thinks the entire factory is empty, but one employee remains, who overhears Charlie tell Nicola in a tearful shout that he's known these people since childhood, that laying off the first 15 of them were the worst 15 times of his life, and that he doesn't actually enjoy making people redundant...and that if she can't see why he risked so much to save the factory, then she will never get him. Shortly thereafter, every employee is back on the job working at top speed and top skill.
  • Achilles in His Tent: After Charlie lashes out at her, Lola abandons her plans to be at the Milan Shoe Expo, leaving Charlie to try and handle the show by himself.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Odd for a Drag Queen, but it's implied Lola is a straight Wholesome Crossdresser.
    WCT: We don’t really see Lola involved with anyone though it’s obvious that the character’s meant to be gay. Do you think Lola always gets what Lola wants?
    CE: I hope so. You hope that she gets over these feelings that she has for Charlie and finds somebody else.
  • Anything but That! / Berserk Button: Don't try to impress Lola with something burgundy.
    Lola: Burgundy. Please God tell me I have not inspired something burgundy.
  • Based on a True Story: Loosely. But not TOO loosely.
  • Between My Legs: Lauren models the prototype pair for Charlie. In the commentary, the director mentions that he couldn't resist making it. Also, there isn't any peek-a-boo because Lauren is completely clothed and the boots go all the way up her thigh.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A not-quite-gender-flipped example: Charlie has really screwed the pooch. He told Lola off about being a Drag Queen the night before their fashion show in Milan, then is too much of a wuss to admit they have no performers for the show. With no other models, Charlie puts on the Kinky Boots himself and tries to take to the runway. He falls on his face and is too mortified to get up. The camera then shows a red patent leather stiletto stepping past him. He glances up to see Lola, who launches into a rousing medley with the Angel Club girls, and brings down the house.
  • Cure Your Gays: According to Lola, this is attempted by her father, but since she's got a habit of doing exactly the opposite of what people want, that's probably the reason she's now wearing a frock.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: In the stage version, Don and Lola engage in a contest to see which of them is a "true man" with both agreeing to do whatever the other dares. Don picks a boxing match, unaware that Lola's father forced him to undergo boxing training. It's thus a closer fight than expected, but Don still wins. Afterward, though, he realizes that Lola threw the fight and could have easily clobbered him but chose not to in order to protect his pride. This act of kindness changes Don's opinion of Lola and prompts a Heel–Face Turn on his part.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Lola, who gets no romantic resolution at the end.
  • Drag Queen: Lola, and all the girls at the Angel Club.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Charlie falls victim to it when he sees three men harassing a woman on the streets. The woman turns out to be Lola.
  • Fashion Show: The Milan Shoe Show, with Lola and her girls strutting their stuff. In the stage version, it's even more stunning as Don and the other employees of the factories don the titular "kinky boots" themselves and show off their own sexy moves!
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Lola does this in an attempt to be taken seriously by the factory employees, presenting as male and going by her legal name of Simon.
  • Gay Aesop: Don gets this from Lola. The entire film counts, too.
  • "Gender-Normative Parent" Plot: Not only does Lola's father wish his son would take up boxing instead of drag, but he also rejects him even on his death bed. However, Lola turns out to be very good at boxing in addition to performing.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Even though Lola herself has a crush on Charlie, she encourages Charlie and Lauren to pursue a relationship with each other.
  • Ladies and Germs: Lola's customary salutation: "Ladies, Gentlemen, and those of you who have yet to make up your minds!"
  • Love Triangle: Charlie is engaged to Nicola, but Lauren loves him, and he's beginning to feel the same way.
    • Secondary love triangle with Charlie, Lauren, and Lola.
  • Magical Queer: Lola, although perhaps a bit more developed than the standard, still falls victim of this trope.
  • Male Gaze / Female Gaze: The camera tends to focus on Lola's (but not Simon's) shapely legs and backside, particularly when she's wearing a skirt.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Our first introduction to the character we know as Lola is him wearing women's shoes as a small boy, juxtaposed with Charlie and his father in the shoe factory.
  • Oop North: Northampton is portrayed as the boring, bankrupt small town representing the endangered values of Charlie's father, and which the fashionable fiancée desperately tries to leave or convert to condos. While the people are very nice, they're a bit small-minded about their new co-worker, a drag queen from London.
    • Northampton is actually in the Midlands, not the North; it's closer to Birmingham than Yorkshire. It's also a large and quite prosperous town with a fair amount of light industry in the surrounding area. In fairness, the above is how Nicola and Lola see it.
    Lola: I gave up the provinces years ago, and I've just been reminded why. Lola doesn't do north.
    Charlie: Northamptom's the Midlands.
    Lola: No, Charlie, Tottenham Court Road is the Midlands!
    • Interestingly, the railway station scene was actually filmed in nearby Wellingborough, a town that really is as boring and provincial as Nicola and Lola make Northampton out to be.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Burgundy!"
  • Rescue Romance: Charlie is successful at this, in a way. He doesn't scare the men harassing Lola by himself, but it's him passing out from Lola accidentally hitting him on the head what makes the men run off. Lola seems thankful enough that she patches him up in her dressing room at her club.
    Lola: Very sweet, you ride into my rescue, very... Prince Charming.
  • Ship Tease: Charlie has several of these with both Lola and Lauren. Lauren herself has a Convenient Slow Dance with Simon.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Charlie has one when he discovers that Lola, the Damsel in Distress he tried to rescue earlier, is not a damsel at all. It also occurs when one of the employees at the factory, Don (Nick Frost), becomes instantly smitten by Lola as she steps out of a taxi (seen here) and remains with a crush till this trope comes at play at the very end of this scene.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: There really was a struggling British shoe factory, WJ Brooks, Ltd., that managed to find a new customer base by making boots for drag queens. Unfortunately, the real factory had to close due to copycats and unscrupulous business partners but the product line lives on and expanded further into providing other types of clothing and gear for alternative lifestyles.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Pretty much nobody manages a convincing Northamptonshire accent.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Lola, who besides being a Drag Queen, is also shown to be attractive, crossdressing outside of her shows, and is presented in a positive light.

I can boogie, boogie-woogie, all night long~