Friday, October 23, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

I’ve read, I think, three of the four Shopaholic books. (Yes, I admit it, I like a trashy novel now and again.) I am often disappointed in movies of books I’ve read, and Confessions of a Shopaholic (based on the book of the same name and its first sequel, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan) was no exception to this rule. First off, the setting was changed from London to Manhattan and the quite British Becky Bloomwood of the book became an American (although Isla Fisher, who played the part, is also British). I could be wrong, but my dim memory of the book also tells me that Becky was a fairly successful financial journalist when the book opened, and that made her credit problems more ironic. There are various other plot points which were changed, not for the better, that I won’t bother going into.

There was some pretty funny stuff in the movie, especially the scenes with the 12-step program for compulsive shoppers. But there were too many things that didn’t ring true, or were not explained. For example, Alicia, the character played by Leslie Bibb (a tall blonde) whom Becky sees as a rival and who acts quite proprietary to Luke (Hugh Dancy) – at some point Luke just says “Oh, we’re not together” with no explanation of why it looked that way. Becky gets out of her financial troubles by holding a big sale where she sells all the stuff she’s bought for enough to pay off her debts. Hello? Credit cards for shopaholics are a bad idea because (a) you aren’t just paying for the item, you’re paying interest and (b) clothing, like cars, begins to depreciate as soon as you take it home. Even if (unlikely) she sold everything for the price she paid for it, she’d still have been in the hole for the interest.

But really, what spoiled the film for me was the clothes themselves! Despite her passion for shopping and her wish to enter fashion journalism, the Becky in the movie not only has bad taste, but doesn’t seem to know what looks good on her. Each outfit is crazier than the next and makes her look short and dumpy. Perhaps that was supposed to make the audience identify with her, but I don’t watch light romantic comedies for socialist realism.

I did enjoy the performances of Joan Cusack and John Goodman as Becky’s parents, and Wendie Malick as the hard-nosed Shoppers Anonymous facilitator. If you like this type of movie and it comes your way without much effort, go ahead and watch it, but it’s no Bridget Jones nor does it do justice to Sophie Kinsella’s “not-so-trashy trashy novels.”

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