What do you do when the Visa bills just keep piling? You hide them under your bed and treat yourself to a Gucci handbag. It’s a traumatic experience that deserves a bit of a pick-me-up, doesn’t it?
Rebecca Bloomwood would have you believe it does. As the proud owner of 12 credit cards, she compulsively swipes them at every opportunity she gets, while crossing her fingers that they won’t get declined in the process. This habit gives Rebecca (Isla Fisher) a feeling of such unparalleled exhilaration that she feels compelled to do it all over again. All of her worldly troubles melt away as she splurges on designer threads, but the shopping high wears off soon after, and so continues the vicious cycle.
Despite her retail therapy, Rebecca’s addiction results in a hefty debt of over $16,000, one that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. From fighting off a woman for a pair of boots, to attending Shopaholics Anonymous, to pawning off a bridesmaid dress for her best friend’s wedding, Rebecca is in a complete crisis. However, when she applies for a position at a financial magazine in hopes of working her way up at a prestigious fashion publication, editor Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), unaware of her lack of financial expertise, sees potential in the spunky fashionista. Okay, so copying her first article from a book might not have been the greatest way to start her new career, but she soon becomes known as “the girl in the green scarf,” ironically giving passable financial guidance to the magazine’s readers by comparing investments to buying shoes.
The movie is based on Sophie Kinsella’s best-selling novel Confessions of a Shopaholic that depicts a woman’s comical attempts at balancing work, love, and her magic cards, while having to make several difficult decisions in order to control her spending tendencies.
Playing off of her wild character in Wedding Crashers, the Australian-born Fisher further displays her comedic prowess in Confessions of a Shopaholic, casting no doubt that this role was perfect for her. However, her co-stars are not nearly as inspiring, and she easily outshines them with her own performance. Fortunately, the script rarely calls for a scene without Fisher, and this prevents the plot from going bankrupt.
Without a doubt, Hugh Dancy looks the part and has an understated charisma as the boss trying to make his own way up in the industry. However, his character is far too tolerant of Rebecca’s dainty screw-ups, and Dancy’s performance falls a bit flat, unable to create a lasting impact. John Lithgow’s minor role as a corporate director is quite disappointing, failing to showcase any of his expected wit. Joan Cusack and John Goodman do a fair job as Rebecca’s overly-frugal parents, but somehow look awkward embracing Fisher, and not really finding a necessary role in the plot until nearly the end of the film.
The film’s comedic elements set the pace while the more serious situations are a nice segue back into the otherwise predictable plot. While Shopaholic wont be up for any nominations in the future, Fisher’s bubbly
personality and slapstick humour make the film a quirky tale of addiction at its most comical. Her portrayal is no more ridiculous than real-world situations in which people suffer from excessive shopping, but can’t help but wanting to look and feel good at the expense of their potential retirement savings.
Shopaholic delves into a world of quaint fantasy, where mannequins in Yves St. Laurent garments call to you from store windows, hoping that you’ll at least try on that elusive dress youve been lusting after for weeks. After all, girls just wanna have fun.