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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter, John Goodman, Joan Cusack
DIRECTED BY
P.J. Hogan
SCREENPLAY

Tracey Jackson, Tim Firth (based upon Sophie Kinsella book)
MPAA RATING
Rated PG
RUNNING TIME
121 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Disney
 "Confessions of a Shopaholic" Review 
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"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is "Bratz" for adults.

Okay, Okay. That's a bit extreme.

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is NOWHERE near as insipid and offensive as "Bratz: The Movie."

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" is, however, a hypocritical film.

"Confessions of a Shopaholic" wants desperately to be a film about the curse of materialism and the relatively novel idea of finding one's self-esteem in something other than a Prada handbag.

The problem is that filmmaker P.J. Hogan ("My Best Friend's Wedding") spends so much time glorifying everything Gucci and Prada that by the time the film gets down to moralizing it feels misguided and vacant.

In the film, Isla Fisher ("Wedding Crashers") plays Rebecca Bloomwood, a shopping obsessed New Yorker with $16,000 in credit debt, a low paying writing job and dreams of writing for the fashion magazine "Alette." When she stumbles into a job writing financial advice for the everyday person at a sister magazine of "Alette" and a rather smitten editor (Hugh Dancy) her entire world threatens to collide as a relentless debt collector (Robert Stanton, "Bully") threatens her newfound success.

Despite the tremendous potential exhibited by Fisher in recent films since her breakthrough in "Wedding Crashers," her performance here feels surprisingly unsatisfying.

The biggest problem with "Confessions of a Shopaholic," based upon a series of books by Sophie Kinsella, is that it constantly has a "been there, seen that" feeling to it.

"The Devil Wears Prada," anyone?

How about "Sex and the City?"

You WILL think about both films while viewing "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and you will also observe that both films were infinitely more funny, more insightful and more entertaining.

There are other problems in "Confessions of a Shopaholic."

Joan Cusack.

I'm a major Cusack fan, but there's something uncomfortable about her performance here.

Is it Cusack playing a mom? Bloomwood's mom?

Yep, that's part of it. Cusack has spent much of her career playing sympathetic, ditzy and lovable types. Her turn as "mom" feels awkward and unconvincing.

John Goodman, on the other hand, turns in a nice performance as Bloomwood's always accepting, dependable dad. It's sure not a huge stretch, but it's a welcome performance.

Wait.

Back to questionable performances.

Is it my imagination or is Hugh Dancy a blue-collar Hugh Grant? How is it possible that Fisher had more chemistry with Ryan Reynolds in "Definitely Maybe" than with Hugh Dancy?

How is that possible?

While Fisher's performance feels forced, the film's revelation is Krysten Ritter (television's "Breaking Bad") as Bloomwood's best friend, Suze. Much like Ginnifer Goodwin's turn in last week's "He's Just Not That Into You," Ritter infuses Suze with a delightful blend of goofiness, earthiness and humanity that makes her the far more interesting character.

The film's supporting performances are mostly a mixed bag, partially owing to the cast and partially owing to not being given much to do.

Kristen Scott Thomas, we know she can act, isn't given much to do as the Alette of "Alette" magazine.

Leslie Bibb is mostly a caricature as a stereotypical rival of Bloomwood's.

Julie Hagerty, John Lithgow, Lynn Redgrave and Wendie Malick all have brief shining moments, but only Malick really manages to rise above the film's mediocrity.

Closer to the hypocrisy and mediocrity of "Bratz: The Movie" than the barbed wit and solid performances in "The Devil Wears Prada" and, to a lesser degree, "Sex and the City," "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is a rom-com that isn't romantic, a comedy that isn't that funny and, worst of all, a film about being original that is nothing but a rip-off.


© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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