- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © Walt Disney
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
uring a time when such lavish spending would be looked down upon by even the most well-to-do moviegoers, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” may have some difficulty convincing its audience to, no pun intended, buy into the story. Then again, it’s based on a pair of books that reached the height of their popularity six years ago, and the film itself was knee deep in production when the economy was at an all-time high, so it would be pointless to criticize the filmmakers for releasing the movie during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. After all, wouldn’t shelving it be an even bigger waste of money? Probably, but when you’re the latest in a string of enjoyable chick flicks, it’s not saving money that’s the issue, but rather how much it's going to make.
For New York-based journalist Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), however, saving money is an issue. She enjoys the experience of shopping so much that she’s become addicted, and it shows in the crippling amount of debt that has piled up over the years. When she loses her job and is forced to find another source of income, Rebecca applies for a dream position at a fashion magazine, only to land a gig writing for a financial publication owned by the same company. Rebecca views the opportunity as a stepping stone, and though she doesn’t know a thing about finance, she uses her knowledge of shopping to write an anonymous column aimed at the everywoman. But when a tenacious debt collector refuses to concede to Rebecca’s dodged calls, her real identity becomes in danger of being exposed.
Designed like a greatest hits of romantic comedies, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” may feature all of the usual twists and turns, not to mention some familiar characters (from Hugh Dancy’s boss turned love interest to Krysten Ritter’s best friend), but the film's cast makes it worth sitting through all over again. Sure, Dancy isn’t breaking any new ground in a role that another actor named Hugh has built a career playing, and Ritter is too good to be relegated to such a one-dimensional part, but they work well as pieces of the big picture. To give you a better idea of the amount of talent crammed into the film, here’s a list of the other actors that appear, most of whom only have a few lines or less: Joan Cusack, John Goodman, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Lithgow, Wendie Malick, Julie Hagerty and Cynthia Stevenson.
It’s an impressive collection of veteran actors to say the least, but it’s Isla Fisher who makes the entire movie. Her manic energy is just too cute to resist, and director P.J. Hogan clearly knows this, because he milks it for all it's worth. Much like its cinematic stepsister, “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic” also succeeds thanks to a clever script, which isn’t consistently funny, but has enough great moments to mask the cheesier, more formulaic sections of the story. In one scene in the film, the audience is informed via flashback of how Rebecca first became enamored with shopping when she witnessed a woman using a credit card as a little kid. Now an adult dealing with a never-ending stack of bills, she notes, “They said I was a valued customer. Now they send me hate mail.”
Hopefully, the producers of the film won’t get the same reaction from its audience. "Confessions of a Shopaholic" may have taken certain liberties during the adaptation of the story from page to screen, but it still manages to rise above the usual romantic comedy trash with a Valentine’s Day treat that both sexes can enjoy.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
“Confessions of a Shopaholic” is one of those movies you really can’t expect a lot from in the special features department, but Disney has still done a pretty good job of putting together a decent collection of extras. The Blu-ray exclusive six-part “Behind the Fashion” may only run a scant 13 minutes long, but it covers everything from costume and production design to filming on location in New York. Also included are a few deleted scenes, a short blooper reel and a trio of music videos.