Confessions of a Shopaholic

I have a confession of my own to make: I kinda like Isla Fisher. I like the fact that we grew up in the same small town (Perth, Western Australia). I kinda liked her in the awful Aussie soap Paradise Beach (she looked hot in a bikini), and I also kinda liked her in that other awful Aussie soap, Home & Away (she still looked hot in a bikini). I've also liked her work in Hollywood so far — from Wedding Crashers through to Wedding Daze (hmmm, I think I see a theme).

Now here she is in her very first leading role (an Aussie playing a British character transformed into an American for the screen) — and it's a crying shame that it's not a better debut vehicle for this talented redhead. That's not to say it's a bad film; it's not, just a little dull and lifeless. For a rom-com, it's remarkably lacking in both rom and com (a complaint regularly made about rom-coms by several reviewers here at Jabber Towers). It's also a shame that a film all about shopping to excess and crippling credit card debt hits the screen smack bang in the middle of the worst recessions the world has seen in a long time.

Shopaholic — based on two of the novels by author Kinsellas — sees Fisher playing Rebecca Bloomwood, a magazine "journalist" (she doesn't actually do much writing) who dreams of working for glossy fashion mag Alette. So she somehow wrangles her way into a job on a business mag owned by the same company. New boss Luke Brandon (Hugh Grant-alike Dancy) dubs her The Girl With The Green Scarf, and has her writing a regular financial advice column. What he doesn't know is that Becks is addicted to shopping beyond her means, and has racked up a credit cards bill of such proportions that she has a debt collector using all means possible (both legal and illegal) to get some money out of her. And cue the usual rom-com misfits, misadventures and misunderstandings.

Confessions of a Shopaholic happily flits along following the usual rom-com formula. Becks has the quirky best friend/flatmate (Ritter) who is also the voice of reason. Becks falls for the boss, and a romance begins, but then something happens to break them up, but then everything gets patched up and it's happy-ever-after time. There's also a wedding that gets squeezed in, which is a must-have plot device for any self respecting rom-com. Most of the performances are adequate; cinema stalwarts such as Goodman, and Scott Thomas don't do their careers any harm, and it's nice to see Malick — best known as a snarky fashion writer on TV's Just Shoot Me — in a decent comic turn as a Shopaholics Anonymous group leader. But the standout in this very ordinary film is Fisher. She's got real screen presence and superb comic timing, plus her prowess for physical comedy has led several critics to compare her with the great Lucille Ball. I look forward to seeng her career progress; I just hope she starts choosing better projects than this.

Official Site
Confessions of a Shopaholic at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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