DVD Release Date:  June 23, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  February 13, 2009
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Run Time:  112 min.
Director:  P.J. Hogan
Actors:  Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas, Fred Armisen, Lynn Redgrave, Robert Stanton

Let’s start with a little confession of my own: My name is Christa, and I’ve never cared that romantic comedies aren’t exactly on par with Dostoveysky—or the cool indie flick of the moment. There, I’ve said it. I like funny stories about finding true love like practically everyone else on the planet (and I’m a critic—tsk tsk!).

That said, even I have my limits. Not only is Confessions of a Shopaholic a cautionary tale of excess gone seriously awry, but it’s a colossal embarrassment to my gender. With a heroine so self-involved and clueless that she makes ditzy Elle Woods (of Legally Blonde fame) look like a Rhodes scholar in comparison, Shopaholic is woefully misguided from the start.

Kicking off with an overly long voiceover from Rebecca Bloomwood (an enchanting but thoroughly wasted Isla Fisher) on how a store loves you unconditionally the way a man can’t, blah, blah, blah, her supposed earnest charm is already wearing thin, and it’s only been five minutes. Then just in case someone didn’t fully comprehend Rebecca’s ramblings on the glories of Gucci, Prada and Yves St. Laurent, we now see the display mannequins literally inviting her in for a little retail therapy.

Of course, as anyone who has suffered from buyer’s remorse already knows, the stores offer little in the way of unconditional love when you’re not paying your bills. But even with mounting consumer debt of more than $16,000, Rebecca spends, spends, spends like there’s no tomorrow. She’s got a room full of gorgeous stuff and still can’t seem to acquire enough. And once she loses her job at a gardening magazine (seriously, a gardening magazine in Manhattan closed?), Rebecca needs a new gig to support her habit. And while her equally annoying roomie Suze (an underwhelming Krysten Ritter) suggests she simplify her life and even lends her some self-help DVDs featuring a very funny Ed Helms (The Office), Rebecca simply doesn’t know how to downsize her appetite for spending.

As we all know, her soul isn’t exactly longing for another designer purse, but this movie doesn’t dig much under the surface of Rebecca’s addiction. Now more determined than ever to land a job at the magazine she’s always wanted to work for, fashion bible Alette, Rebecca shows up for an interview in her gorgeous new green scarf, only to discover that the position has already been filled from within. But the requisite spunky gay receptionist is more than happy to help, of course. With a lead on a writing opportunity with Successful Saving, Rebecca immediately lands an interview with the austere Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) and makes such a fool of herself that any out-of-work journalists watching probably wish they could give those flowing red locks of hers a good yank of rebuke.

Since little in the way of actual reality marks the storyline, however, Rebecca ends up getting the job after offering “insightful” perspective on how credit card APR rates are like finding out your sweater is only 10 percent cashmere. Now known as the “girl in the green scarf,” it apparently only takes one column for her to gain a significant cult following. And it’s enough to get Alette herself (Kristin Scott Thomas with an exaggerated French accent) to notice. So will Rebecca land the job of her dreams, manage to avoid the seemingly ever-present debt collector Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton) and eventually get the guy who seems to loathe her in the beginning? Or will she have some out-of-the-blue change of heart about her shopping addiction and actually change? Chances are, you wouldn’t need to see the movie to figure it all out.

And if all the squealing over shoes and irresponsible behavior, all the more disturbing in light of today’s financial realities wasn’t annoying enough, the filmmakers seemingly believe they’re serving up a helpful portrayal of the dangers of materialism. But for every “lesson” that’s provided, there’s another long, loving gaze at rows of delectable, candy-colored stilettos and sparkly couture gowns that makes overspending look so undeniably fun. It’s sort of like serving mojitos at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and expecting people not to partake—just one of the many reasons that money back guarantees should be offered for anyone who actually believed that Confessions of a Shopaholic would be enjoyable escapist entertainment.

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