Confessions of a film reviewer – Confessions of a Shopaholic DVD review

Confessions of a Shopaholic – Starring Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy and John Goodman. Directed by P.J. Hogan. Rated PG for mild coarse language. 104 mins. Originally published March 16, 2009. By Simon Miraudo.

Confession #1: Despite all reasonable logic and preconceived expectations, I enjoyed Confessions of a Shopaholic. And believe me, that is a ringing endorsement from someone who is in no way part of this film’s target demographic. I know I really shouldn’t have enjoyed it; a guy like me should be seeing Watchmen for a third time instead of dragging his girlfriend along to a movie even she wasn’t looking forward to. Confessions, based on the chick-lit novels by Sophie Kinsella, would normally be the definition of a cinematic ‘no-go-zone’. But the film draws you in until you submit to its charm, like a SALE sign in the window of a Gucci store. Wait. What did I just say?

Confession #2: Isla Fisher is a great comedienne. The former Home and Away actress has finally lived up to the potential shown in Wedding Crashers and carried an entire film with her girly laugh and cheeky smile. Fisher stars as Becky Bloomwood: notorious shopaholic, pastel tinged girl-about-town and occasional journalist. She’s recently lost her job, and with $16,000 worth of credit card debt, she needs to get back into the game. Her dream of writing for fashion magazine Alette is briefly put on hold when she is offered a job at Successful Savings, a relatively dry financial report. She is eventually given her own column which takes the U.S by storm, and also catches the eye of her hunky yet aloof magazine editor Luke (Hugh Dancy). Sigh, which leads me to my next confession.

Confession #3: I wouldn’t kick Hugh Dancy out of bed. The charismatic English actor manages to be funny without being given anything particularly funny to do. Imagine Hugh Grant, but less foppish. Or James McAvoy, but more mannish. Either way, in a cinema filled (literally, FILLED) with women, it was impossible not to sense the approval of the audience with the casting decision. I fear that if Dancy had taken his shirt off at any point in the film, a full-blown hen’s night would have erupted right then and there.

Confession #4: I have a bit of a soft spot for a well made romantic comedy. Hollywood churns out more awful romantic comedies than any other genre, and that includes j-horror remakes and movies about Iraq. We all know the beats; the guy and girl don’t get along at first, then they fall in love, then they have an argument, then they mournfully look out the window while it rains, then they get back together. Fin. But if a film can hit those beats well, and at least make the ride punchy enough –I’m sold. Confessions bubbles along pretty quickly, thanks to director P.J. Hogan (who similarly kicked goals with My Best Friend’s Wedding). At times the dialogue falls flat, but the movie sells it with a sincere and talented supporting cast, including John Goodman and Joan Cusack as Becky’s parents.

Confession #5: I kind of feel sorry for the flick. Imagine how Disney felt when Wall Street crashed just after the completion of production. Suddenly, they have to sell a movie about a woman who obsesses over Prada and Gucci while Americans are having their homes repossessed. Of course, I’m more inclined to sympathise with the newly homeless rather than the faceless Hollywood studio, but you get my point. Thankfully, the film and its heroine aren’t as vapid as you would expect, and even deliver a message of frugality in the end. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reveal that Becky eventually reorganises her priorities into people first, then money, then things, then jackets. I mean, what did you expect? Her debt grows so large she is forced to turn tricks in an alley just to pay for a new pair of gloves? It’s a comedy. Relax.

Confession #6: I also liked The House Bunny. As long as I’m getting things off my chest…


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