Shop Till We Drop
"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is a movie which annoys me, not because it's an unfaithful adaptation of Sophie Kinsella's book, in fact I don't know how faithful it is because I haven't read it. Nope it annoys me because it has the capability of being a very good movie, one which does a great job oh highlighting the emotional rollercoaster of someone going through debt problems instead of being mainly a romantic comedy. As such "Confessions of a Shopaholic" isn't a bad movie, in fact it is very run of the mill and is equal to many romantic comedies but it just grates that strip away all the romantic comedy element and there is that potential for being an amusing look at how debt ruins your life.
Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher - Definitely, Maybe) has one major desire and that is to be a journalist for a major fashion magazine, unfortunately she can't even get through the door for an interview and finds herself writing for a finance magazine. Writing as "The Girl in the Green Scarf" she becomes a huge success as her down to earth advice wins her praise and opens the door to a job at the fashion magazine she idolises. But unfortunately for Rebecca she doesn't live by her own advice and as a compulsive shopper has a major debt problem one which she tries to ignore but keeps coming back to haunt her and ruin her potential happiness.
What is clear is that there are two sides to "Confessions of a Shopaholic" you have the story of Rebecca who can't stop spending whilst running away from her debt problem and then a romantic comedy revolving around her and her boss Luke who is unaware of her duplicitous life as she writes financial advice in the magazine he edits. Now the unfortunate thing is than rather than focussing on the more original storyline of debt problems "Confessions of a Shopaholic" focuses on the romance and in doing so ends up being rather a run of the mill romantic comedy. It goes through the various obvious stages typical of any romantic comedy and whilst the road to romance is rocky you know that by the end of 104 minutes there will be a very nice ending where everything is sorted out and love wins the day. As such "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is no better or worse than countless other romantic comedies made specifically for a female audience and it certainly does feel very much a chick movie even though I hate that term.
The annoying thing is that when "Confessions of a Shopaholic" focuses on Rebecca's spiralling debt problem it actually gets good. Whilst playing it for laughs there is a lot of truth in the various scenes such as the extraordinary attempts to avoid speaking to a debt collection officer. And in one of the best when Rebecca succumbs to buying more stuff she can't afford she sits there and the regret of the impulse buys is delivered perfectly. Even the prescribed happy ever after ending when she basically sticks it to the nasty debt collection officer relates to how many people feel when they are harassed by abrupt men at the end of the phone. But instead of making the debt storyline the true focus and delivering something funny whilst thought provoking it favours the romantic comedy which is just unoriginal drivel.
What is also annoying is that Isla Fisher who is the star ends up playing every scene over the top and at times her Rebecca feels closely related to Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods in "Legally Blonde". It's just all too fake and whilst Fisher does a pretty good job of delivering the comedy and emotion when it comes to the debt part of the movie ends up being annoying when it comes to the romantic comedy side of things. As for Hugh Dancy who plays love interest Luke Brandon well if you took a bit of Colin Firth, a bit of Hugh Grant and a touch of Michael Sheen you basically have his character. It's not a criticism of Dancy who pulls of the romantic lead quite effectively and makes a nice change from either Colin Firth or Hugh Grant, but the character is unoriginal and as such is quite boring.
In an ironic way my favourite performance comes from Joan Cusack as Rebecca's mother, not because of what she brings to the movie as she has very little to do but one time Cusack would have been playing the best friend and has now graduated to a parental role.
What this all boils down to is that "Confessions of a Shopaholic" could have been a very good movie but instead ends up a very run of the mill romantic comedy. As such it is entertaining in an average sort of way but if it had focused more on the debt element of the story it could have been so much greater because what it delivers is comically real.