Thursday, February 26, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic (**)

Confessions of a Shopaholic.  112 mins.  PG.  Directed by P.J. Hogan.  Written by Tracy Jackson and Tim Firth.  Starring Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, John Goodman, Joan Cusack, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Slickly produced (courtesy of Jerry Bruckheimer) and engaging but never funny, Confessions of a Shopaholic is a flat adaptation of the annoying series of bestselling books by Sophie Kinsella.  It stars Isla Fisher as Rebecca Bloomwood, a Carrie Bradshaw-type pining for a columnist job at a high-end fashion magazine.  Through a series of quirks and coincidences, she ends up writing for a financial magazine where she charms the staff with her unorthodox savings advice, including her boss - stiffly played by Brit Hugh Dancy.  Shopaholic plays out like a romantic comedy, only it's not very romantic.  The relationship between Fisher and Dancy is almost an afterthought.  This is really a movie about a woman coming to grips with her shopping addictions and career ambitions.  I'd like to say it makes a strong feminist statement and empowers women, but, alas, that's hard to do when the big dramatic moment hinges on whether Rebecca will sell her cherished green scarf.  Isla Fisher is a gifted comedienne and she does her best with the endless supply of shopping jokes and broad physical comedy, but this sort of material is beneath her.  Bruckheimer apparently used his clout to pull in a roster of impressive supporting talent: John Goodman and Joan Cusack play Rebecca's parents; Kristin Scott Thomas pops in for a scene or two as the head of the fashion mag, but their presence doesn't change anything.  Shopaholic is sure to please its less discerning target audience, but the chick flick genre deserves better than this.



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