25 May 2009

Movie Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic


Confessions of a Shopaholic
2009, 104mins, PG
Director: P.J Hogan
Writer (s): Tracey Jackson, Tim Firth, Sophie Kinsella (Novel)
Cast includes: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Leslie Bibb, John Goodman, Joan Cusack
Release Date: 13th February 2009

I love to lap up a little unfiltered fluff every now and then, a picture detached from reality but with sufficient good will and comic optimism to keep me interested. In terms of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” I’m well outside the target demographic, and it goes without saying that the film has a fair share of problems, but damn it…….there are a few well aimed comic gems and a darling performance from Isla Fisher on show , meaning that for the majority of the viewing my brain was actually modestly entertained.

Rebecca Bloomwood is a down on her luck journalist, working for a magazine far removed from the glitz and glamour of those she wants to pursue, and thanks to her shopaholic tendencies Rebecca has also mounted a steep debt. After her job hits the dirt, Rebecca is desperate to find further employment as to effectively combat her pages and pages of credit card bills, and in a move of perplexing irony ends up at the junior end of a finance magazine called “Successful Savings”. Having shown some initiative Rebecca has caught the eye of editor Luke (Hugh Dancy) as an exciting financial prospect, and within no time her fashion sourced articles have made her a big hit in the office and even globally. However as the glory mounts so too does the call from Rebecca’s dream job at the Alette fashionista rag, which would mean leaving “Savings” and a potential romance with its editor behind.

Isla Fisher certainly deserves bigger screen exposure than her career has afforded her; along with Will Ferrell she stole the hit comedy “Wedding Crashers” and since has made a few interesting and amiable projects that have back fired on the grounds of weak cash earnings. In “Shopaholic” Fisher is the star and leaves no qualms about it, running rings around the suspect supporting acts and blazing a trail of comic earnestness wherever the story takes her. Fisher is petit in stature but is a fire cracker on the screen, her charm and pleasant aura far outweighing her minute size. “Shopaholic” is a breezy and forgettable soda pop of a picture, not a bad career choice per se, but certainly in terms of conception and comic realization a few solid notches below its leading lady. Fisher is happy however to use it as a playground for her comic timing, kinetic energy and gorgeous smile, keeping in the process “Shopaholic” as inoffensive big screen material.

The support is on the other hand a mixture of wasted talent and crappy performances, as love interest Luke, Hugh Dancy may represent the pinnacle of the movies thespian barrel scraping. He has a rancid chemistry with Fisher and delivers his lines like Hugh Grant on Ritalin, almost like a sort of English tree that bares the foppish haircut of its people. I’ve spied Dancy in a few other projects over the years and whilst he always veered toward the inanimate side, he was never as unbearably boring as he is in “Shopaholic”. As Rebecca’s mom and pops Joan Cusack and John Goodman are callously wasted in parts far below their talent threshold, whilst as a fashion rival of sorts Leslie Bibb is thrown the most bizarrely unnecessary role of all. Bibb who was comic fire in “Talladega Nights” might have been some use here, but director P.J Hogan just uses her as plot device instead of joke fodder or a potential 3-D character.

The story for “Shopaholic” has been nabbed from a book of the same name and whilst I have no idea how far it deviates from its source material, as a standard Hollywood comedy it’s okay. The romantic element would certainly be better with a less wooden male lead, but Fisher bring enough fizz to the other elements of the tale to keep it rough and feisty, without ever pushing the PG rating the MPAA has prescribed it. Some of the gags within are neat and tidy in their drawing of smirks and giggles, whilst a few belly laughs also get thrown into the cocktail for good measure. Regular movie goers are sure to see several funnier comedies in 2009 but also a hash of far less impressive ones, for my money this is a more satisfying film than the hugely successful “Paul Blart Mall Cop”, there isn’t much between them but I’ll use “Blart” to highlight this movies comedic solidity.

Those predisposed to a good chick flick should give “Confessions of a Shopaholic” a run, it’s a better movie than the vast majority are stating, imperfect sure, but genial and funny enough to warrant a slice of your time. In times of economic hardship it’s an oddly appropriate watch, filled with sprightly characters beating down the monetary barriers laid in front of them. Also the more people who choose to see it, the more folk will witness the comic majesty of Isla Fisher, and this her transaction from Aussie soap star to Holywood gold might be completed. That in itself is more than enough reason to give this ration of mainstream fluff a quick spin on your DVD player.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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