We See Chick Flicks: “Confessions Of A Shopaholic”

Starring Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter

Based on the series of chick lit books by Sophie Kinsella, “Confessions Of A Shopaholic,” is the story of adorable, but bumbling “journalist,” Rebecca Bloomwood, who has a serious shopping addiction that has left her in major debt. This movie, as we’ve noted, hit theaters at a seriously awkward time — WE’RE IN A RECESSION, ZOMG! Hardly the most appropriate time for a film about a woman who has a romantic attachment to stores and the wares they sell. Maybe the producers hoped the movie would be “relatable” to the millions of Americans who are having rough times themselves. After all, Rebecca’s credit cards are declined! Rebecca is being stalked by debt collectors! Rebecca cannot afford her rent! It’s just too bad that the account cancellation notices paving Rebecca’s yellow brick road of woe lead back to Bloomingdale’s. So what’s a girl to do? Rebecca is forced to take a job at a financial savings magazine, writing under a pseudonym (“The Girl With The Green Scarf”) as she tries to make financial mumbo-jumbo understandable to real folks. Meanwhile, debt collector Derek Smeath is out to get her. How ironic right?!

The Lowdown: Rebecca is played by Frisky favorite, Isla Fisher, an Australian actress who previously may have caught your eye in movies like “Definitely, Maybe” and “Wedding Crashers.” (She’s also Sacha Baron Cohen’s fiance and baby mama.) In a movie that is otherwise “meh,” Fisher is perfectly cast. While gorgeous and tiny and made for the clothes her character owns, Fisher is also the kind of comedic actress who can do slapstick with sex appeal. The whole time I was watching the movie, saying to myself, “Oh god, this is so not good,” I was laughing at her delivery and timing. Out of a relatively crappy movie emerges a serious star — despite the bad reviews this movie is totally going to get, Isla Fisher will come out unscathed.

The same could be said for the other stars of the movie. Utterly dreamy Brit, Hugh Dancy (soon to be Mr. Claire Danes, ew), plays Rebecca’s new boss, Luke Brandon, who, of course, sees the potential under all the colorful layers of Patricia Field-styled costumes. Dancy tries his best to rise above his character’s atrocious storyline and horrible, sappy dialogue, and like any British actor in the vein of Hugh Grant, he basically succeeds. But if you want to see him at the height of his adorableness, check out better films like “Evening” and “The Jane Austen Book Club.”

Krysten Winter, a relative unknown, plays Rebecca’s best friend and roommate Suze, and I was taken with her from the second she spoke on screen. She reminds me a lot of Zooey Deschanel, with her wide eyes, dark hair, and kooky demeanor. With four more movies in the next year, it seems that studio execs already agree that Winter is a star to watch.

The rest of the movie is rounded out with somewhat big names — John Goodman and Joan Cusack play Rebecca’s parents (seriously, am I getting so old that Joan Cusack is playing a 29-year-old woman’s mother now?), while Kristen Scott Thomas (you know, from the Academy Award winning movie “The English Patient”) does her, uh, “best” “Devil Wears Prada” impersonation as the Editor-in-Chief of the fashion magazine Rebecca wants to work at. They all could do better than this movie. ALL OF THEM.

The Verdict: I don’t expect my chick flicks to be groundbreaking cinema, but I do expect some quality. While Fisher, Dancy, and Winter were all fun to watch, and the costumes were oh-so-“Sex And The City” colorful, the dialogue was crap, the jokes often fell flat (except when Fisher was delivering them), and the plot was filled with eyelet-sized holes. I laughed out loud a few times, and generally enjoyed how wonky Rebecca’s imagination was — like the fact that many of her lies referenced Finland, because “no one checks up on Finland.” But seriously, it was hard not to feel disappointed that THIS was Isla Fisher’s big role and that she was given such a crap script to work with. It’s obvious she’ll go to ridiculous places for laughs, but she would have been even funnier if given better material. So hook the girl up, Hollywood.

P.S. To answer our own question, did “Confessions Of A Shopaholic” bomb in this economy? Kind of, yeah. It came in at fourth places, making $15.4 million in its opening weekend, behind “Friday The 13th,” “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and “Taken.”