Judge Daniel Kelly has a confession. He didn't hate this movie.
Our review of Confessions Of A Shopaholic (Blu-Ray), published June 23rd, 2009, is also available.
All she ever wanted was a little credit…
Isla Fisher, why aren't thou more loved? A wonderfully spunky and endearing comic performer, Fisher should be in high demand in Hollywood, having proven that in terms of romance and laughs she can conjure up the goods as easily as a Heigl or a Bullock. Yet Fisher is constantly stuck in formulaic and low rent genre pieces like 2007's momentously lightweight Wedding Daze and now this, Confessions of a Shopaholic. It's not that Shopaholic is a travesty—indeed, at times it's modestly enjoyable—but seriously Ms. Fisher, you could do better than this.
Facts of the Case
Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher, Hot Rod) is a journalist at a magazine she hates, far removed from the glamorous and glossy fashion publications she craves. Her escape comes in the form of shopping, and boy does she love it. Rebecca thinks more about Gucci and Prada than she does potential partners or even close friends. However when her job is made redundant and the spending binges mount up to form an ugly debt, Rebecca in a bid to find employment accidentally winds up working for Successful Savings, the magazine for those desiring financial solidarity. After overcoming the irony that she is a massively indebted shopaholic writing at a savings publication, Rebecca actually finds unlikely success in her cash-related musings and becomes a major hit. She also begins to fall for the magazine's driven editor Luke (Hugh Dancy, Blood and Chocolate) but thanks to her praised work, she earns the interest of Alette, the cream of fashion magazines, and of course with every handbag, comes ever more debt.
I didn't mind Confessions of a Shopaholic. It's a pretty vacant movie but it does feature a few laughs and a commendable performance from the leading lady. Fisher dominates the show from start to finish, and whilst her magnetic screen presence can't completely pull the picture out of the dungeon of ordinariness, she at least ensures the production doesn't lack zip and basic charm. The one thing that I would really like to praise Confessions of a Shopaholic for is giving us a New York fashion obsessive who is, for all her flaws, not an utter bitch. Rebecca is far removed from the reprehensible and slutty chicks who populate Sex and the City, she's got a penchant for material goods, but essentially she's an engaging and funny screen presence. That's more than Sarah Jessica Parker has ever been able to claim.
As far as plot goes, Shopaholic is basic in the extreme, but not in a way that is likely to insult or undermine the audience's intelligence. It has no added pretensions of being anything more than a fluffy chick flick, reveling in all things fashion and man trouble. In these economically harsh times I almost thought for a minute that Shopaholic might have been made as recession counterprogramming, but given its February release and the downturn having occurred the September before, it would have been an impossible to complete in such a tight timeframe. Instead it exists as a pleasant coincidence that the financial crisis and a movie featuring a sprightly and appealing character in debt crossed paths, maybe Fisher's turn as Bloomwood will inspire some to keep on fighting through the economic turmoil, and if that's the case then it's easy enough to forgive the picture's forgettable nature.
Those who like can relate to Rebecca's shopping addiction might really get a kick (and word of advice) out of Shopaholic; a competently staged and unsurprisingly typical rom-com. Tepid box-office receipts indicate this will not be the movie to fully launch Isla Fisher's career, but hopefully some movie executive will watch and scoop her out of the obscurity in which she unfairly lingers. Her performance here is the key redeeming feature and along with a few smirks and giggles keeps Shopaholic palatable, even though it's nothing remotely special.
Technically Disney has put together an underwhelming DVD release for Confessions of a Shopaholic, its lack of monetary clout back in February seemingly having translated into this uninspired disc. From a video and audio perspective it's fine, and actually boasts a pretty cool 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, but the extra features are beyond lame. A few short and woefully dull deleted scenes are the biggest pulling point, whilst a blooper reel boats very few funny moments and lasts for no time at all. Aside from that simplistic roster of content, there is a music video, and not even for one of the better songs featured in the movie. Any fans of this film have every right to be disappointed with Disney's feeble efforts.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As Fisher's romantic interest, Hugh Dancy isn't up to much. Wooden and with a fairly unconvincing chemistry alongside the poster girl, he's definitely one of the film's less excellent features. Also why are Joan Allen and John Goodman being squandered in small roles as Rebecca's parents? They both kick ass and yet have a fifth as much screen time as Dancy, desperately trying to fob of a bad Hugh Grant impression as a performance. Whoever made that call is lame.
I wouldn't recommend Confessions of a Shopaholic outright, but rather send out an all clear alarm for those who enjoy treading such well worn genre paths. Fisher is great, and it's harmless in a way I can't detest, so if the title makes you want to watch, go for it.
Never perfect but rarely any worse than so-so. By the skin of her Gucci bag
Rebecca Bloomwood escapes with a not guilty verdict.
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