“Confessions of a Shopaholic”
At Showcase and Quality 16
Touchstone Pictures

2 out of 5 stars

Forget the stimulus plan. Rebecca Bloomwood’s (Isla Fisher, “Definitely, Maybe”) spending habits alone are enough to get the economy back on its feet. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is ill-timed, as most Americans aren’t about to drop $120 on a scarf. Of course, maybe a fluffy movie laden with brand names is just the thing people need to forget about recent financial troubles. Unfortunately, this particular movie won’t do the trick.

Bloomwood parades around New York City in a pair of Louboutin stilettos, swinging her Gucci bag while eyeing mannequins in Bendel’s. She works as a journalist who has landed a job at “Successful Savings” and she has had a mild amount of success thanks to a column she writes under the pseudonym “The Girl in the Green Scarf.” Her boss Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy, “The Jane Austen Book Club”) just might be falling for her, and all she needs now is the perfect Yves Saint Laurent dress, but she’s thousands of dollars in debt thanks to her 12 credit cards and penchant for designer clothes.

Director P.J. Hogan, who was responsible for chick flicks “Muriel’s Wedding” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” is also at the helm here. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is another one of those silly, superficial romantic comedies released around Valentine’s Day for female audiences. Actually, it’s mildly insulting. The sugary plot seems to insinuate that most women have nothing better to do than shop and that women actually believe a new outfit will make their lives much better. And the clothes shown in the movie aren’t even particularly nice; the film features mountains of pink shoes and frilly bows that not even a Barbie doll would go near.

The characters in the film only serve to perpetuate the stereotype of the ditzy airhead. For example, why doesn’t Bloomwood even make some sort of attempt to pay the credit card bills she has stashed under her bed? Really, how stupid is she? It’s too bad, because Fisher could do much better. Even as Rebecca Bloomwood, she is certainly a driving comedic force as she performs a bizarre sort of tango with a fan and gets in a catfight over a pair of ugly Pucci boots. Dancy is passable as Luke Brandon — mainly because the part requires little acting. He’s just there to flash his blue eyes at the camera and deliver lines in a British accent.

Of course, the movie tries to convey the idea that fiscal responsibility is a good thing, but it does so half-heartedly. It just makes shopping and lying to debt collectors, parents and friends look like way too much fun. Even Rebecca’s parents (Joan Cusack, “War Inc.” and John Goodman, “Bee Movie”), who usually save their money, end up spending everything they’ve saved on an RV. Cusak and Goodman are both talented actors, and it’s a shame that both have underwritten roles.

In the end, it would be wiser to invest the time and money spent on this movie elsewhere.

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