Shopaholic a blandly annoying confession
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Shopaholic a blandly annoying confession
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

Confessions of a Shopaholic
Opening February 13

Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a struggling New York journalist with a penchant for shopping beyond her means who fantasizes about working as a writer for a world-renowned fashion magazine. But that is not to be, the deeply in debt sexy single woman instead wondering where her next paycheck is going to come from and how the heck she's going to pay off all those Prada- and Gucci-padded credit card bills.

Somehow fate intervenes and this woman who can't balance her own checkbook ends up working for a finance magazine with strict instructions to make the world of economics understandable for the modern woman. Her sexy Brit editor Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy) believes she's got the chops to pull it off, quickly falling under her charmingly alluring spell while helping her column blossom into an all-media smash.

But what happens when the girl with the winning smile and talent for using shoes as metaphors for risk and reward suddenly transforms into the scared young woman using lies about a comatose sky diving aunt to avoid bullish debt collectors? Will the financial world understand? More importantly, will Luke? Only time will tell, the will to shop potentially overcome by a new desire to live a life beyond the physical pleasures wearing designer duds can only superficially bring.

Based on the popular books by Sophie Kinsella, Confessions of a Shopaholic is by and large a huge waste of time. Amusing in spots, featuring some endearing character work from Joan Cusack, John Goodman and, especially, should-have-been-an-Oscar-nominee Kristin Scott Thomas and containing a bit more emotional heft than the usual modern romantic comedy, it nonetheless falls unconscionably flat, the laughs so scarce the film can't help but catastrophically suffer because of it.

The movie also continues a somewhat annoying genre trend that feels decades out of touch. It's almost as if in pictures like Bride Wars, Sex in the City, The Women, 27 Dresses and, most recently, He's Just Not That Into You, women have suddenly regressed, the only thing important to them material needs like the latest handbag, the newest designer dress and the size of the diamond on your engagement ring. In these films, admittedly two of which (the latter pair) I've sort of liked, feminism is suddenly a four-letter word, empowerment nothing better than being barefoot in the kitchen sporting a very pregnant bellybutton.

Sure, these movies gussy it up a bit, offer a little misdirection giving the illusion that their protagonists are smart, successful career women ready to take on the world, but the end result is all the same. In these tales the trivial always wins out, and the more flighty and imbecilic the actions, the more likely the star of the show is going to end up happily snuggled within the arms of the man of her dreams. In other words, bimbos rule, and if a girl wants to be anything more than that the only thing she can expect from life is to live it completely alone.

Unfortunately, that misogyny continues here. The film talks a good game, but in the end, all its concerns are ruggedly stupid and backwards. While nowhere near as offensive in its vapidity as Bride Wars, that still doesn't make what it is ultimately saying about the feminine condition anymore palatable, and before it was even half over I was already more than ready to call it a night and make my way back home.

It doesn't help that the world Confessions of a Shopaholic lives in bears absolutely no relation to the one we walk and talk in each and every day. As a struggling journalist myself, I'd fall over and think I'd gone to heaven if I lucked into a job an eighth as grand as the wholly ill-prepared Rebecca's, while editors like Luke simply do not exist on this or any other planet in the known universe.

I understand that films like this exist in a sort of fairy tale reality that glitters and glistens like the twinkly green tower atop the highest spires of the Emerald City, but it's small issues like those which ultimately sink this project deep into the toilet. If you can't buy into the little things than the big ones are impossible to stomach, as everything adds together to form 100 minutes of beautifully coifed tedium more ready for the bargain basement than it is the Macy's front window.