Confessions of a Shopaholic (Touchstone Pictures, PG)

film_shopaholic_sm.jpgLuke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) sees something in Rebecca—God knows what, besides her looks—so he gives her a trial writing gig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Talk about slight. This goofball celluloid confection is two hours of fluff about a purty gal who runs up her credit card bills buying clothes, tries to get a job at a top fashion magazine writing about said apparel, and constantly avoids facing responsibility for her wayward spending until love (and a determined debt collector) comes calling. That’s sort of it. But, since this is a film review, I gotta say a few more things. Well, okay then.

Isla Fisher, a delectable British actress toplining for the first time, plays Rebecca Bloomwood, a fashionable New York low-tier writer for whom appearance is, if not everything, certainly way up there. Mannequins in store windows talk to her (no, really!) and dare her not to come in and buy the latest fab garment or purse. One day she spies a one-of-a-kind green scarf that is pricey, but irresistible. She scoops it up (requiring several different credit cards to do so), hoping it’ll be just the right thing to get her noticed in an interview at her favorite fashion magazine. Somehow, she detours instead to a chat with the handsome editor of Successful Saving, a magazine under the same publishing umbrella (a little Conde Naste nudging here). Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) sees something in Rebecca—God knows what, besides her looks—so he gives her a trial writing gig. In short order, she becomes bylined as "The Girl in the Green Scarf," displaying some sort of wisdom about credit and shopping and the need for seeking happiness in your consuming decisions, generating a following (and increased attention for the mag) in the process. Meanwhile, that debt collector, Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton) is closing in on her, making for some genuinely amusing scenes to those of us familiar with the single-mindedness of many in that profession. Rebecca manages to always scurry away from him in the nick of time, with help from Suze, her Anne Hathaway look-alike roommate (Krysten Ritter).

The bulk of the movie deals with Rebecca’s narcissism and eventual comeuppance/redemption, part of which happens via a 12-step shopaholic group she joins, although these scenes are played for the cheapest of laughs. And of course, the inevitable romantic dilemma-will Rebecca earn Luke’s deeper attentions, or will he fall instead for long-legged fashion model Alicia (Leslie Bibb)? Problem is, none of this stuff is particularly compelling. Although Fisher is a perky li’l thing, and does everything that director P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding) asks her to do, the character pretty much serves as a compendium of feminine clichés, the type women tend to get offended by.

This is Sex and the City meets The Devil Wears Prada, without the comic sizzle of the former and the knowing edge of the latter. What will most grab your attention in this movie is the raft of secondary roles: Joan Cusack and John Goodman play Rebecca’s thrifty parents with gleeful eccentricity, Saturday Night Live‘s Fred Armisen turns in a credible performance as a grubby corporate player, the divine Wendie Malick appears as one of Rebecca’s Shopaholic group members, and even John Lithgow is in this thing. John Lithgow! The cast seems to be having fun, but Confessions is lacking in wit and focus. It’s too determinedly shallow to rise above its comic romp intent, and despite Fisher’s charm and a handful of amusing bits, the movie will leave most viewers wanting. It may nudge the sales of green scarves upwards, though. | Kevin Renick

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