Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic **1/2

Director: P.J. Hogan
Cast: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter
John Goodman, Joan Cusack, John Lithgow, Leslie Bibb
Lynn Redgrave, Kristin Scott Thomas

Rebecca Bloomwood (Fisher) is a journalist with a problem: she is addicted to shopping. Her excessive spending is sinking her in debt and she must hide from a feared credit collector (Robert Stanton who almost steals the film) while trying to land a job in "Alette" a fashion magazine she's dreamed of working in since se was a child.
A strike of, odd, luck lands her a job in a financial magazine instead, where she becomes an overnight sensation with her savvy column that brings money issues down to Earth for the average reader (read people too lazy to care about what's going on in the world and teenagers) by using fashion/shopping metaphors.
The magazine blooms, she develops a crush on her editor Luke (Dancy) and must hide her fiscal secrets from those who admire her.
Out of the land of realism this film is not. Rebecca's optimistic irresponsibility would have her in a pretty bad situation nowadays and what for many people might be a nightmare, for this character becomes an obstacle to overcome in search of her fairy tale ending.
What's undeniable is that the movie makes for bubbly escapism that's ironically much needed in times like these.
Borrowing the snappy chick wisdom from "Sex and the City", irrationally cute fantasy sequences straight out of "Ally McBeal" and Fisher trying hard to be Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde" it's obvious that nothing here is new.
Add to this some "The Devil Wears Prada" (with the delicious Scott Thomas channeling yet another version of Ms. Anna Wintour, but surprisingly less icy) and a cartoony sense of comedic timing and this will seem like time well spent.
The film suffers a bit from a feeling of haste and incompleteness, too many subplots, too little for us to care including Bibb as an "Alette" competitor and Rebecca's parents (Goodman and Cusack) trying to put some old-er age wisdom and heart into the vapidness.
And while Fisher has improved from her previous screen appearances (her comedic timing and slapstick skills are remarkable) she still lacks a little something to carry an entire movie on her back.
She's absolutely cute and you buy her (no pun intended) as someone who'd literally run from a debt collector, but she lacks presence, which becomes ironically obvious with her wardrobe.
While she narrates about how much she loves clothes and style, Fisher and consequentially Rebecca are sometimes so intimidated by Gucci, Prada, Fendi and all the others that they seem to drown in the clothes.
A particularly awkward piece of jewelry shaped as an anchor (which Rebecca wears to a convention in Miami) really does look heavy on her which proves that even if costume designer Patricia Field is a genius, she needs another genius to pull off her ideas.
Some people might feel offended by the shallowness displayed by most characters, but it's wise to think that those people would never even go see this for starters.
P.J. Hogan, an expert in chick-flicks and rom-coms, takes the wise side by turning this film into a farce that gets more outrageous by the scene (Lynn Redgrave practically has a cameo as a drunk lady who proclaims she loves Rebecca), perhaps only by stating Rebecca is a heroine, instead of judging her (like any normal person would) does he feel he can uplift people's spirits.
"Your mother and I think that if the American economy can be billions in debt and still survive, so can you" says Rebecca's father and while the theater lights are dimmed you actually believe this.

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