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CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC, 2008
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CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC
Movie Review
Directed by PJ Hogan
Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy
Review by Jen Frankel




SYNOPSIS:

A college grad lands a job as a financial journalist in New York City to support where she nurtures her shopping addiction and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur. Based on the novel "Confessions of a Shopaholic" by Sophie Kinsella.

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REVIEW:

P.J. Hogan is a director that seems to have a lot more luck with scripts he pens himself (Muriel's Wedding) than those he just directs (My Best Friend's Wedding -- yeah, I know a lot of people loved it, but it was just a little too predictable and sappy in my books, not to mention miscast... switch the female leads, and maybe you have something).

He didn't write Confessions of a Shopaholic, and honestly, I'm surprised anyone did. Or that there weren't more writers credited, meaning the script met death by committee.

The saddest part is that it's not a terrible film, just a mediocre one, but it really could have been great. Of course, that would have involved anyone involved actually knowing what it was about.

Isla Fisher came to most people's attention in Wedding Crashers, where she easily out-outrageoused both Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. I hope she gets something else soon that's more up to her capability as a comic actress.

Don't get me wrong. She has some hilarious moments, especially starting about midway through the film when it finally seems to find its feet briefly before sliding out of control again. She is just so funny it seems a crime to saddle her with a character that doesn't know if she's childish or some kind of savant, dumb as dishwater or a budding Pulitzer Prize winner.

I guess one of my other problems that hampered any kind of enjoyment of Shopaholic beyond the most superficial is that I couldn't fathom whether I was supposed to be impressed with her fashion sense or perplexed at just how ugly the film's idea of high fashion was. Everyone looked ridiculous, all the women at least. They were uniformly dressed in too many colors, too many bizarre shapes, with too much grotesque, chunky accessorizing.

I'm probably showing either my ignorance or my utter lack of taste, but I don't think I've ever seen anything so ugly and pointless as any of the handbags Rebecca insisted on cooing over.

One of the saddest parts of the film was that the love story between Fisher and Hugh Dancy could have really been sweet and real. It had its moments. But I really had a lot of trouble squaring his opinion of Rebecca as the most "vivacious, funny, and inspiring woman" he'd ever met with the girl he'd hired. And it was almost impossible to see Rebecca, who didn't seem to even know the word "irony" let alone how to spell it, as a writer who could stir the world with her insight.

Often, I could see where the script THOUGHT it was going, only to have it take a left turn right back into pointlessness.

You can be sure of a certain number of good laughs, but this could really have been an important film about how women exchange real achievement and personality for the shallow semblance of it, using their fashion sense as their only way to express themselves.

It could have been about the real current monetary crisis, and how Americans are glibly burying themselves in debt with no thought of the consequences.

Instead, it's neither one thing or another. It has no idea what it actually believes about either its characters or the world, and in the end fails its star-studded cast by leaving them without anything to say.

It's half wonderful, and half utter bullshit. Maybe just like fashion itself.

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