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Confessions of a Shopaholic

Movie title: Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG
Summation: A New York journalist struggles to cope with her frivolous shopping habits.
Spoilers ahead: No

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Some chick-flicks should come with warning labels. "Warning: This film can be hazardous to your mental health, your pocketbook, and could make you a materialistic floozy." In it, frivolous shopping sprees are desired like the junk peddled by orange-haired crank dealers. Journalism jobs in posh New York offices are flaunted like the Italian leather boots of a high-profile Los Angeles district attorney. It may be counter-intuitive, but the warning would not help to prevent ravenous spending. It might, however, spare some of us from having to see prada-obsessed, new purse-wanting women who love dreaming about the Park Avenue lifestyle.

I say that in jest. Most of us dream about having bigger and better things without succumbing to being as superficial as wallpaper. It's the stereotypical mindset behind the want that gets to me.

"A man will never treat you as well as a store." That is a recurrent theme in Confessions of a Shopaholic. Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) is a journalist, and she could be a successful one, but she has a problem: she is a shopaholic. The support of a loving mother (Joan Cusack) and father (John Goodman), and a best friend "Suze" (Krysten Ritter) who's got her back no matter what she takes for granted. None of that matters because her shopping insanity is catching up with her in the form of some daunting debt. "They said I was a valued customer. Now they send me hate mail."

A star-studded cast and thoughtfully slick dialogue, together with plenty of awkward situations that teeter on the line between funny and frustrating, do not push Confessions of a Shopaholic to break the mold into anything beyond a merely "sweet" film. Even the presence of the talented John Lithgow as "Edgar West" (whom I would like to have seen more of) and Wendie Malick as "Miss Korch" (the unforgettable Nina Van Horn from "Just Shoot Me") don't do much for it.

Everything is right on the surface, from a gaughty female designer with a merciless passion for fashion, to a strappingly handsome boss with a charming English accent who carries around martinis at parties just to look classy along with the rest of the suit-wearing fat cats. Apparently, scores of women find this stuff irresistible. I find it cliched.

Extravagant Bloomwood writes one article and gets famous for her maverick non-conformism while an office full of qualified workers find it delightful. I find that odd. She's a good luck girl, that Bloomwood, but as you might have guessed, good luck always runs out. I find that predictable!

Though lightly endearing, there's nothing novel about it, nothing really brilliant or moving about it. It throws itself out there right from the start, and you either enjoy watching a frolicking, fashion-obsessed female or you don't. The story and dialogue won the highest points, then came the humor. But why did I keep getting the feeling that the movie took itself too seriously? Hmm.

I got nothing against chick-flicks, just the ones that decide to scream professed femininity from the rooftops. Only then do I call a foul.

(JH)

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Director: P.J. Hogan
Starring: Isla Fisher "Rebecca Bloomwood," Hugh Dancy "Luke Brandon," Krysten Ritter "Suze," Joan Cusack "Jane Bloomwood," John Goodman "Graham Bloomwood," John Lithgow "Edgar West," Kristin Scott Thomas "Alette Naylor," Fred Armisen "Ryan Koenig," Leslie Bibb "Alicia Billington," Robert Stanton "Derek Smeath," Julie Hagerty "Hayley," Nick Cornish "Tarquin," Wendie Malick "Miss Korch," Clea Lewis "Miss Ptaszinski"
Genre: Comedy / Romance

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