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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Confessions of a Shopaholic

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CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC  -  I DIDN’T BUY IT

Confessions of a Shopaholic is based on the best selling novel of the same name and its sister book, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella.  I didn’t read the books, but based on the title, I must confess, that I could relate to the character’s spending habits, since I, too, have to control my urge to splurge on clothing and accessories. My closets are bursting.  Yet, I understand the mindset of those who find shopping for goodies an uplifting experience, like no other.  Metaphorically speaking, for many shopping is the drug of choice for inducing a euphoric high that doesn’t harm the body.  But on the negative side, when the habit gets out of control, it can badly damage your credit and leave you broke. Thankfully, I have never gone to that extreme.

This brings me to question the timing of the film’s release. While the economy is in its worst state since the last century’s depression, with unemployment on the rise, people losing their homes as well as major investments and savings, along comes this frivolous movie which showcases unnecessary excessive spending.  Those who can barely afford the necessities and are struggling to make ends meet may find this film offensive. In any case, other than the eye catching fashions, the film doesn’t have much going for it, though it makes a failed attempt at being funny and lighthearted.  One thing is for sure.  Fans of Sex in the City, The Devil Wore Prada and TV’s Ugly Betty will love the display of the fashionable duds worn by the film’s leading lady, Isla Fisher (who looks so much like Amy Adams that I can hardly tell them apart). If nothing else, that alone should draw throngs of fashion conscious females and gay men into the theatre.


Confessions of a Shopaholic revolves around a pretty, vivacious New York journalist and fashionista, Rebecca Bloomwood (Aussie Isla Fisher putting on an American accent) who has always dreamed of working for Alette, a high fashion magazine run by the snooty French editor, Alette Naylor (Kristin Scott Thomas). Unfortunately, she has been stuck behind the desk of a home and garden publication, that is, until it goes under.

Out of a job, unable to pay her portion of the rent in an apartment she shares with her best friend Suze (Ann Hathaway lookalike, Krysten Ritter) and her fiancé, and in debt to the tune of over $16,000, Rebecca applies for an opening at Alette, but discovers the position has been filled by a spidery legged blonde named Alicia (Leslie Bibb).

With a helpful tip from the male receptionist, Rebecca winds up at the next best thing, a financial magazine called Successful Savings published by the same company where she is immediately hired by the handsome and very eligible British editor Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy).  Of course, the contrived irony is that she, a person up to her eyeballs in debt, is assigned to write, of all things, an advice column about handling money.  Problems arise when Rebecca’s column becomes a sensation and she has to hide the truth about being a compulsive shopper (especially for expensive clothing, shoes, and accessories) while at the same time trying to avoid a credit card bill collector (Robert Stanton) who is relentlessly pursuing her. Staying true to formula, the storyline involves a budding mutual attraction between Rebecca and her boss and has Rebecca’s nemesis, the nasty Alicia setting her eyes on Luke for herself.  Add to the scenario an eventual falling out with both Luke and best bud Suze and it isn’t hard to fill in the blanks and guess the outcome.

Isla Fisher is certainly easy on the eyes, and a charmer with an adorable giggle. She can be hilarious (proof being her role in Wedding Crashers) but this film doesn’t showcase her talents to the best of her ability. Most of the slapstick humor revolves around Rebecca’s physical clumsiness and rather than being funny, either falls flat or, in the case of her horrific dance moves, is unfunny and embarrassing.
 

Wasted in supporting roles are John Goodman and Joan Cusack as Rebecca’s frugal parents who decide to use their savings to buy a motor home. Most shocking was seeing the wonderful Lynn Redgrave (whatever happened to her?) in a horrendous cameo as a drunken lady. If you blink you could miss her. Actually, that might be for the best.

It’s not all bad.  I loved the clothes, thought the few scenes with the Shopaholics Anonymous support group were somewhat amusing, and Rebecca’s interactions with animated store window mannequins were an enjoyable, clever inclusion.

Yet, somehow I felt the story floundered, missing the chance at really tackling the issue at hand, in a comical, smart way. Instead this film exploits some of the worst female stereotypical behavior and turns out to be just another fluffy, predictable romantic comedy in which, once again, the love of a man is seen as the cure for any woman’s problem.

Only the staunch romantic comedy addicts will find this film satisfying. Like every addiction the fix is only temporary…not like, say buying a fabulous new “lasting” pair of shoes that is on sale.  That reminds me, I better get over to the mall before it closes. Nope, on second thought I better not.

 

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