Even a mediocre movie is more enjoyable if it features locales you've visited or people you know. Let me expand that to things with a local angle. The owners of George's Shoes in Arden Hills contacted me to say that one of their products is featured in "50 Shades of Grey," released last Friday.

It's the Walnut Hinge Shoe Shine Kit ($85) made for George's and sold in the Arden Hills store and online at Georgesshoes.com. But don't blame Ron George for shameless product placement. He didn't ask to have the product in the movie. The movie's people came to him. The shoebox kit doesn't even have his family's name embossed on the outside.

The owner of the venerable shoe store, which has been around in the Twin Cities since the 1940s, received an email from the product placement managers back in September to feature the shoe valet after they discovered it online. "We have the biggest selection of shoe shine boxes on the Internet," George said.

Here's the email from the movie's product placement manager: "I am writing you in regards to Fifty Shades of Grey, starring Dakota Johnson (Social Network, 21 Jump Street) and Jamie Dornan (Marie Antoinette).  I am interested in using the "Walnut Hinge Shine Box" in the film. There is a scene in the film where Christian goes to his wardrobe and pulls several items out.  The "Walnut Hinge Shine Box" would be one of those items."

George said he hasn't read the book so he has no idea if a shoeshine kit is mentioned in it too. "The 50 Shades people paid to have us ship it to Canada and they shipped it back after filming," he said..

I went to a media screening of the film  but didn't see the kit. I was yakking with one of my colleagues as the film began, even though I had been told the scene with the walnut box occurs early when Christian's bedroom closet is shown.

One movie goer who knew to look for the shoe shine kit said that he saw the box in Christian's closet but only for a second before the scene shifts.

If you'd like to see a Twin Cities' connection in the movie, arrive early. It's in the first minute or two of the movie during the opening credits.

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