'Shopaholic': A Timely Comedy Of Errors

Isla Fisher i i

Pretty In Pink: Rebecca (Isla Fisher) fantasizes about infinite credit in the silly slapstick rom-com Confessions of a Shopaholic. Touchstone Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Touchstone Pictures
Isla Fisher

Pretty In Pink: Rebecca (Isla Fisher) fantasizes about infinite credit in the silly slapstick rom-com Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Touchstone Pictures

Confessions of a Shopaholic

  • Director: P. J. Hogan
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

Rated PG: No sex or violence, but lots of bad behavior.

Isla Fisher with Bendel bags i i

Bag Lady: Shopping breaks become Rebecca's full-time occupation. Touchstone Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Touchstone Pictures
Isla Fisher with Bendel bags

Bag Lady: Shopping breaks become Rebecca's full-time occupation.

Touchstone Pictures

One of the characters in Confessions of a Shopaholic is utterly appalling. She lies (to just about everyone), cheats (her boss and creditors) and steals (mostly from fellow fashion victims, during designer-sale catfights).

She is, of course, the movie's heroine — bubbly, borderline-hysterical shopaholic Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) — which means that viewers are meant to cheer her transgressions and hope that come the credits, she'll have gotten everything she wants.

Which would include her cute editor, a job at her favorite fashion magazine and an endless supply of Prada, Manolo and all the other brands that Shopaholic's target audience is supposed to worship as much as Rebecca does.

Alas, a design flaw has surfaced since P.J. Hogan (of Muriel's Wedding fame) decided to make this adaptation of Sophie Kinsella's novel: The global economic bubble has deflated, rendering toxic debt somewhat less hilarious.

Anachronistically, Shopaholic is set in a New York where the only people who fear their credit-card bills are a few couture junkies, not legions of laid-off bond traders.

The daughter of committed bargain hunters (Joan Cusack and John Goodman), Rebecca has somehow inherited the full-price gene. She shops compulsively at upscale boutiques — on her way to work, when she should be at work, and when she needs the perfect thing for a job interview.

Those interviews, Rebecca imagines, will lead to a place at Alette, the fashion bible edited by its namesake, Alette Naylor (Kristin Scott Thomas, playing a French-accented version of the role Meryl Streep devoured in The Devil Wears Prada).

Instead, Rebecca stumbles into a job at a stuffy investing magazine, Successful Saving, where her boss is an impeccably unshaven Brit, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy, who's too young to be Hugh Grant or Colin Firth, but might as well be James McAvoy).

Allegedly a professional journalist, Rebecca can't even begin to fake it as financial reporter. But she can write about her own life, turning her debt travails into a column attributed to "The Girl in the Green Scarf." The readers love it. (Perhaps they had all checked the wrong box, accidentally subscribing to Successful Saving when what they actually wanted was a monthly dose of O.)

After a series of slapstick adventures — Fisher is given myriad opportunities to break, drop or hurl things — Rebecca is finally revealed publicly as an apparel addict and a charlatan. Luke is dismayed, and Rebecca's best friend nearly ejects her from her wedding. (Of course there's a wedding! Chick flicks can't survive on designer togs, dreamy Brits and outbursts of collective squealing alone.)

Like her many recent precursors — roles played by the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellweger and Drew Barrymore — Rebecca is just too cute to be defeated. Ultimately, she'll walk defiantly past boutiques, and the display-window mannequins will applaud her resolve.

Audiences may not join in the ovation. Inside Confessions of a Shopaholic's narrative bubble, Rebecca appears blithe and charming. Whenever reality intrudes, however, she looks more like a self-serving Wall Street CEO, squirming at a congressional hearing.

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