Monday, February 23, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic movie review

This 2009 romantic comedy about an obsessive spendaholic named Rebecca Bloomwood (played by Isla “Borat’s fiancé” Fisher) is adapted from a hugely successful series of novels by Sophia Kinsella and is directed by P.J. Hogan (he of My Best Friends Wedding, Muriels Wedding, and the live-action Peter Pan movie. Man has anyone seen that 2003 Peter Pan movie?). Anyway this is the story of how recent college graduate Rebecca, moves to Manhattan to get her spending on and to pursue her dream of working at a fashion magazine. Along the way, debt ridden and alone, she somehow ends up with a job as a columnist for a financial magazine. Hilarity and romance ensue. Can she find her true love, get her spending habit in order and live happily ever after? Seriously this is the Pretty Women for shopaholics, and at least prostitutes work hard for their money.

Many people have brought into question the tackiness or outright insensitivity for studios to release a movie about obsessive spending during an economic downturn. While I think critics are missing the point, (the point should be, “why do studios keep pumping out less than stellar chick flicks?”) the point has been made numerous times during this release.

While we aren’t in a great depression as bad as in the 30’s, although it may feel like it is as times, movies have always been recession proof because they’re a cheap form of entertainment. While people might bemoan ticket prices being 11 dollars, 11 dollars looks a lot better than a trip to Europe if you don’t have the money. People need an escape when they’re faced with troubling times, and Hollywood is always there to meet that demand. If you look at movies that came out in the 30’s, some of the greatest movies ever produced came during that time, Little Caesar, King Kong, the great Universal Horror films like Frankenstein and Dracula, the Thin Man series, It Happened One Night and so on. So you can look at it like, since the need to escape is so intense, since people need to feel like they’re somewhere else, even if only for two hours, Hollywood uses that and creates some of the most memorable work to date, or at least that’s how it was before. I mean if people have a limited budget you better make a film good or people won’t see it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, no I don’t think it’s tasteless to release a movie about overspending during a time where almost 5 million Americans are out of work. It’s an escape, and if people can escape to a world where luxuries and endless spending await than more power to them. This is not to say that Confessions of a Shopaholic is any good, just not bad in that context.

So about the film, well, it’s just okay and that might be giving it to much credit. The theater was filled with women who obviously enjoyed it, especially the lady next to me who laughed like crazy as she stuffed her face full of popcorn singing how she’s like Isla Fisher’s character. However for an overall film, this isn’t very good. It has all the benchmarks for being a chick flick except that until the very end it has no heart. Being a guy I can’t understand the mindset of going into 16 thousand dollar worth of debt because you have to have a bunch of clothes you never wear. Also the plot is terribly choreographed, the sight gages extremely cliché, but yeah still, Isla Fisher is cute. Sure she doesn’t deserve a happy ending, and sure she should end up a crack whore, but still she’s cute and this is well, at best a very light romantic comedy. One thing I’ve always loved about Isla Fisher is that she’s one of the rare female comedic actresses that has no problems doing slapstick comedy. Sandra Bullock also does it too, but Isla always pulls it off.

However I have to call foul with the whole basic storyline of this film. Basically it’s about the world of magazines and how the main lead romantic interest, his dream is to start his own financial magazine. I mean really? The whole print world, especially now, is at a crossroads. Many magazine publications, as well as newspapers are filing for bankruptcy. So centering the whole plot on starting a magazine and how everyone still reads magazines and nothing about the internet seems ludicrous to me. I still love reading magazines but I know I’m in the minority here so yeah, the plot just feels incredibly outdated to me already.

It does have a good ending that didn’t pander to its audience. The theater was full of women who laughed and seemed to enjoy themselves, but for a guy? This was hell on screen. I cringed as the characters swooned over all the fantastic clothes and accessories; I clawed my eyes out as girl drama occurred. With all that said, I know I’m not the target audience, but as a film as a whole this is just poor. So I give Confessions of a Shopaholic the “I want my money back/sneak out rating.” There are better movies and chick flicks out now so just watch those. Only for Isla Fisher fans, but yeah even with that this is still a pass.

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