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:: Confessions Of A Shopaholic

There is a point early on in Confessions of a Shopaholic (directed by P.J Hogan of Muriel‘s Wedding fame) where Hugh Dancy (Luke Brandon), the innocuous love interest of Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), points out that “there is a difference between 'cost’ and ‘worth’”. Too right Dancy boy. Let‘s apply this little nugget to your film shall we? In fact, let's apply it to most mainstream Hollywood schlock these days. A film 'costs’ the average punter $16.50, but it is usually only ‘worth’ about $6.00. In the case of Confessions, it's $2.00.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is based on two of the novels from Sophie Kinsella‘s stupendously popular 'Shopaholic’ series. It shifts the novels’ setting from London to New York and reinterprets Rebecca as an American from Connecticut rather than a Brit. The plot could be summarised thus: girl in debt due to insatiable appetite for shopping, girl falls backwards into job working for (cue irony) ‘Successful Savings’ magazine, experiences success on personal and professional fronts, debt, lies and consequences of actions mount, girl learns valuable lesson re. responsibility and priorities with a little help from friends and family.

As a person who shuns materialism and conspicuous consumption, I was not well placed to identify with mildly manic Rebecca as she wrestled with her plastic fantastic bills and evaded the pursuit of the Big Bad debt collector. In recent interviews, Isla Fisher has gushed that she can't believe how prescient the film and its message was, considering that the American economy has gone to hell in a handcart due to, among other things, Americans living beyond their means. I would argue that I can't believe how badly timed the film is, considering that most women watching the film, who are up to their eyeballs in debt and possibly dealing with foreclosures on their homes, are more likely to be crying, rather than laughing, in recognition.

In the second act of the film, Rebecca’s best mate Suze (Krysten Ritter) insists that she goes to a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. I found the parody of the addicts most offensive. By playing the situation solely for laughs, it refused to acknowledge the deeper void in people who have such an addiction. The film leaves the origins of Rebecca’s void profoundly unclear, unless you count the fact that her (loving) parents were thrifty and she had to go to school with sensible brown clodhoppers instead of sparkly ruby slippers…boo hoo.

This film is wholly unoriginal and mostly unfunny. At the cinema where I saw it, literally two scenes raised a chuckle from the audience. It has a paint by numbers, fish out of water storyline and feels like watching Ugly Betty without the sympathy, Sex and the City without the style and Legally Blonde without the, without the…actually they're practically the same film!

I take serious issue with the fashion in this movie. C.C Bloom's line from Beaches comes to mind, “It looks like a flamingo threw up in here!” What's with the pink P.J? I don't know much about fashion, and I certainly don't “speak Prada”, but Rebecca Bloomwood has to be one of the worst dressed clothes horses of recent cinematic times. Her sense of colour co-ordination is non-existent. I'm sure all of this is a very deliberate tool to show what a wacky, zany, individual person Rebecca is, but if the end result is scorched retinas, then I think the costume department missed their mark. And a message to George, Barney's, Prada, Burberry, Gucci and YSL - your clothes suck and even your backhanded product placement hasn't inspired me to darken the door of any of your astronomically priced stores.

Perhaps the biggest crime in this cotton candy extravaganza is that the fantastic support cast is so neglected. We’ve got John Goodman and Joan Cusack as Rebecca’s parents, we’ve got Kristen Scott-Thomas as the French editor of ‘Alette’, the fashion magazine where Rebecca so desperately wants to work and we’ve got John Lithgow as the owner of the publishing house. Somehow, they all take a back seat to Isla Fisher’s slapstick showpieces and are forced to make do with the little screentime they have.

Finally, being Australian, and a former avid watcher of Home and Away (at least up until the Shane and Angel years), I'm compelled to officially bestow Isla Fisher with the title of “Our Isla”, and throw a modicum of graciousness her way…Summer Bay's Shannon can carry a film. She's got charisma, she's got great comic timing and she has a very unique look which is most refreshing. I think slapstick, neo-screwball comedy is truly her forte and I'm looking forward to seeing her in a Judd Apatow movie.