"Shopaholic" is a fashion faux pas

Feb. 18, 2009, 1:18 p.m. | By Deepa Chellappa | 13 years, 3 months ago

Uninspired plot and lame jokes land this chick flick at the back of the closet

Lacking the wit of "Sex and the City" and the charm of "Legally Blonde," "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is just so last season. Though it tries mightily to live up to its cute title and premise, the movie largely registers as an overdone story of female self-improvement without the glamour and refined taste that made similar films timeless hits.

Photo: Isla Fisher is Rebecca Bloomwood, a clothes-crazy journalist who attempts to curtail her shopping addiction. Picture courtesy of Touchstone Pictures.

Based on British author Sophie Kinsella's popular novel, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" stars Isla Fisher as the blissfully clothes-crazy heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood. Rebecca has a sickness - she's addicted to dresses, shoes, belts, handbags, jewelry and every bright bauble and designer doodad she sees. The $400 Gucci purse? She simply must have it. That fabulous forest-green $130 scarf? It's calling her name (or rather, the talking mannequins are).

At the beginning of the movie Rebecca writes for a dull gardening magazine, but dreams of working for a fashion magazine like "Alette." Her only qualification for the job, of course, is the $16,000 credit-card debt she has racked up on hats and gloves and whatever else catches her eye. She somehow manages to land a job - irony alert - at the financial magazine "Successful Saving," with the idea that she can climb the corporate ladder and end up at "Alette." The Editor-in-Chief at "Successful Saving" is the attractive Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) and the second you hear his British accent you can guess how the story will end.

Just like the romantic element of the flick, the plot line boasts little but sheer predictability. In this time of global economic turmoil, Americans are crying out for an escape from their own fiscal crises and instead, director P.J. Hogan serves up line after line of the same, tired, sitcom-style humor.

Hogan also made the mistake of trying to cram too much into one film. "Shopaholic" attempts to blend the consumerism of "Sex and the City" with the ditz-in-the-corporate-world of "Legally Blonde" and the romance of "Bridget Jones's Diary." Unfortunately, "Shopaholic" is never as good as the movies it imitates. Where those classic chick flicks move seamlessly between girlie concerns and serious life lessons, "Shopaholic" makes the transition less comfortably. When Rebecca is in her shopping paradise the film is fun, but when it slows down to offer a lecture on personal responsibility, "Shopaholic" turns into a hangover: drawn-out, painful and utterly regrettable.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of the film is that the so-called luxurious, expensive clothes are hardly eye-popping or even tasteful. Rebecca's outfits are, for the most part, hideous: an orange plaid cape, a ruffled purple dress, something reptile-esque in yellow fake fur and some of the ugliest purses in history to make their way to the sale rack. While "The Devil Wears Prada," with its flurry of chic couture, might have made fashionistas drool, "Shopaholic" makes you want to renounce every item in your wardrobe.

The only bright spot of the entirely too long film lies in its star, the adorable Isla Fisher. Sweet, frazzled and appropriately silly, Fisher is the sole reason to see what is otherwise a subpar comedy. When her editor catches her using a search engine to shortcut an assignment, she supplements the words "I Googled" with innocent doe eyes and little-girl guilt that elicit at least a couple of hearty laughs.

Other than Fisher, however, few of the fine supporting actors have opportunities to showcase their capabilities. Wendie Malick has two delightful scenes as the leader of Shopaholics Anonymous and Julie Hagerty pops up as an assistant at "Successful Saving," but clearly Hogan is in dire need of a fiscal lesson about spending money on talent that is never used to its full potential.

All in all, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" ends up being just another unrealistic, laugh-less chick flick with a sense of humor and plot almost as bad as Rebecca's credit score. It's been done, and it's been done better.

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" (112 minutes) is rated PG for some mild language and thematic elements. Now playing everywhere.

Deepa Chellappa. The high point of Deepa's life thus far occurred when she waved to Mickey Mouse at a Disney World parade and he blew her a kiss in return. Needless to say, she hates Minnie with a passion. In her free time, Deepa can be found … More »

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