Isla Fisher, who played the memorably insane quasi-girlfriend in The Wedding Crashers, gets her first chance as a leading lady in Confessions of a Shopaholic, a whimsical romantic comedy that exceeds expectations but still falls flat more often than not.
In Shopaholic, Fisher plays a fashion writer who has grown up with a love of credit cards and high apparel, spending well beyond her means. After losing her job, she discovers that she is indeed $16,000 in debt. Desperate, she takes a job as a financial writer at an up-and-coming economic magazine, despite being the last person in the world that should be handing out financial advice. But her editor (Hugh Dancy) sees something in her, both professionally and otherwise.
Fisher performs well in the lead, carrying the full weight of the film on her shoulders. The movie doesn't have much substance beyond her performance, so it's a good thing Fisher comes out with all guns blazing. Between her crazy dance moves and strange bubbly antics, she is pretty entertaining and always enjoyable.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is about as cliché as they come. We have the neurotic protagonist who falls into a trap of lies, the romancing of the boss (do Hollywood writers just assume that every lovely woman starts up a lifelong relationship with their equally handsome boss without any concern as to how it reflect poorly on her career, and vice versa?), the minor conflict that arises when the truth hits the table, the eventual reconciliation and a bunch of frantic scenes to glue everything together. Shopaholic has its moments, but again, they mainly arise because of Fisher and not because of the screenplay itself.
Confessions of a Shopaholic is mildly amusing and establishes Fisher as a leading lady, but otherwise is a forgettable romantic comedy.
Review #2 by Dakota Grabowski (D)
Romantic comedies should expectedly be both romantic and funny at the same time. They should hold your interest until the very end and be able to entertain both sexes. If you want a model romantic comedy, you could look at 1960's The Apartment from Billy Wilder or even to the 2003's Love Actually. They both intermixed situations where everyone could appreciate the acting along with the scenes that felt you could relate to the characters. Sadly, Confessions of a Shopaholic doesn't have many redeemable traits.
What holds this film adaptation of the popular Shopaholic books? Well to begin with the most important aspect for this genre, there aren't any likable characters. Based in Manhattan, Confessions of a Shopaholic obtains almost every cliché from the previous romantic comedies and makes them worse. From the random meeting of strangers that encounter each other in odd circumstances and inevitably meet again a few scenes later to the accidental mix-up of letters that are mailed out by Rebecca Bloomwood, the lead character, it's all painfully contrived.
Playing Rebecca Bloomwood is Isla Fisher, the cute redhead that you may recognize from Wedding Crashers. As the lead character, Isla Fisher fails to charm her way through the movie or act her way out of a box. It may not be the best material to work with, but Fisher wasn't provided with an in-depth character to hold the interest of viewers. She'll get on your nerves for how naïve they've made her and it some point in the movie, you may become increasingly aggravated at how over-the-top the scenes are. Perhaps the worst scenes in the film are any rehabilitation scene that Ms. Bloomwood is asked to attend for her shopping addiction. They don't add anything to the film outside of over-acted comedic situations that don't provide a whimper of a laugh. Heck, the producers must've owed a big favor to former NBA player John Salley to have him cameo in the rehab scenes.
The storyline is your typical romantic comedy with Bloomwood falling in love with her eventual boss that she meets at a hot dog stand early on in the film. She must overcome the odds that are stand before her such as a rival to her man, being found that she's a fraud - she's working for a financial magazine with no experience - and troubles with her family and friends. They obstacles come left and right and she always finds a way out of them, but not without trying to force a laugh or two out of the audience.
Even the supporting cast wasn't that strong to help guide this film in the right direction. John Goodman is playing the same father that he played in Coyote Ugly and Joan Cusack plays the same motherly figure she has typecast as. Both offer little to the story or entertainment value of Confessions of a Shopaholic. Not even an appearance of the lovable John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun) saves this film from being an utter disaster. The last disappointment was Kristin Scott Thomas' role as a fashion magazine editor that pales in comparison to Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. The cast overall doesn't perform at a high or compelling level.
So what can you expect from Confessions of a Shopaholic? Outside of the standard foray of romantic comedy clichés, there's not much here that'll make you feel you've got your money's worth. Early on in the film Ms. Bloomwood writes a column about buying cashmere that's turns out to be 5 percent cashmere and 95 percent polyester - well at the end of the day, Confessions of a Shopaholic is 5 percent entertaining and 95 percent drudgery to sit through.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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