A movie about a young woman who can't control her spending, runs her credit firmly into the ground and never pays off anything might have been called "An Enemy of the People," given the state of the economy. But "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is a far more palatable title for a too-close-for-comfort comedy starring Isla Fisher ("Wedding Crashers"). As Rebecca Bloomwood, shopper extraordinaire, she's incredibly sweet and frazzled, and a journalist, which is one of the better jokes in the movie. Rebecca is enthralled by the magic of credit cards and is constantly amazed at the way American commerce can make you "lust for things you never knew you needed."
Is Rebecca the embodiment of irresponsible consumership? Absolutely, which makes the timing of "Confessions" either genius or fatal, but two things weigh in its favor: One is Fisher. The other is that "Confessions" is oblivious to its own gravitas. Rebecca is the Lucy Ricardo of profligate spending. She desperately wants to work for the fashion rag, Alette magazine, run by the semi-satanic Alette Naylor (Kristin Scott Thomas). An opening has arisen at a sister mag, a personal-finance journal edited by the dashing and secretly wealthy Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), and Rebecca lands the job.
"Confessions of a Shopaholic" touches all the rom-com bases: the romance between Luke and Rebecca; Rebecca's friendship with her roommate Suze (the wonderful Krysten Ritter). And lots of comedy filler, including the digressions involving Rebecca's parents (Joan Cusack and John Goodman). And 12-step shopaholic meetings.
Rebecca may owe everybody for everything, but Fisher definitely owns the movie. She is the only one outside of Ritter who gives a bona fide performance. She's also the only one treated at all well by cinematographer Jo Willems's camera.
-- John Anderson (Feb. 13, 2009)
Contains vulgarity and adult themes. Area theaters.