Kaleb does Confessions of a Shopaholic [plus retro review]

shop“When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.”

The Scoop: 2009 PG, directed by P.J. Hogan, and starring Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy and Krysten Ritter.

Tagline: All she ever wanted was a little credit…

Summary Capsule: I think there is some shopping, and perchance a… confession of some sort?

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Kaleb’s Rating: Didn’t hate it as much as I wanted to!

Kaleb’s Review: It was a dark and stormy night…

No, seriously, it really was.  It was raining assorted housepets in Houston.  As such, there was a feeling of jubilation in the soggy air, as it was the first rain Houston had seen in almost five hundred years.  At least, I assume so; that celebration of the long-awaited return of the magical sky water was the reason that literally all four million residents of Texas’ finest megasprawl chose to join my sister, parents and I at the Star Cinema Grill.

It was packed, is what I’m getting at.  We had originally intended to see Taken, which I had already seen, but was more than happy to see again.  Unfortunately, it had sold out so hard that it had actually made a circuit around the loop of infinity, un-sold out, then sold out again.

Second choice: Paul Blart Mall Cop, which I had heard was not actually as heinous as all logic dictated it should be.  Unfortunately, it had been cancelled, to make more room for, of all things…

Third choice: Pink Panther II.  Which had also sold out.

Amazed at the decision to cancel Blart to free up an extra screen for Panther; moreso at the fact that there had evidently been some merit to said decision, and as a result, increasingly convinced that we had fallen into some sort of alternate Nightmare Earth, we nonetheless resolved that we really ought to see something, since we were already there, and all.

That’s the mindset with which I entered Confessions of a Shopaholic (which played to a packed house): Regarding it as being one priority level below Pink Panther II, and as such, one priority level above paying a hobo to stomp on my head (they’ll usually do it for free; that’s why that would be silly).

Perhaps, then, my abysmally-low expectations deserve some consideration when I say that it was actually fairly enjoyable.  Make no mistake, it’s more by-the-book than the book itself; Charming British love interest, slightly less attractive best friend, statuesque nemesis, gay sage, intricate web of lies that unravels all at once to the accompaniment of sad acoustic guitar, then is resolved five minutes later to the accompaniment of happy acoustic guitar backed by harmonica (the instrument of victory!)–the gang’s all here.  But really, if you go in for this dreck on a regular basis, are you going to care?  (That was me being an elitist jerk just then).

And hey, I got a new babe to ogle out of the deal!  And not just any babe; Isla Fisher is an ultra-rare Bynesian specimen.  That is, a woman who realizes that it’s okay to be gorgeous and funny at the same time; that comedy is not something to be held disdainfully at arm’s length between thumb and forefinger with the pinky up, whilst you wait for a fat person to come relieve you of it.

Having said all that; While I guess my ultimate opinion of Confessions technically merits a recommendation, it is by no means a recommendation requiring any of the anime mecha pilot medium-swears (damn hell bastard).  In other words; Rent-only, watch once, move on.

I mean, I watched it twice, but only because I had to, and mainly just to grab the couple of quotes and asscapture I wanted.

I mean, screenass.  Screencapture.  Leave me alone.

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Lissa’s Rating: If only getting a writing job was really that easy….

Lissa’s Review: So, we live near this mall. The King of Prussia Mall. It’s not just any mall. It’s a huge, giant, hundreds-of-stores mall. And, like lots of girls, I enjoy shopping so I go there when I get a chance. But this mall is different from the ones I grew up with. This mall has the designer stores: Louis Vitton, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Hermes, Coach, and Neiman Marcus, to name a few. You know- the kind where there are only a few items on tasteful display and when you walk in, the salesladies kind of look at you and wonder “what the heck are you doing in here?” (Or at least, that’s what I imagine they’re wondering.) Granted, I never go into these stores, with one big exception.

Neiman Marcus has the nicest bathroom in the entire King of Prussia mall. It also has a mothers’ room, with comfy chairs and places to sit, and a low traffic flow. And the toilets are generally clean. It’s a great place to set your bare butt or to feed a baby, and it’s my bathroom of choice, followed by the ones in Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdale’s- two other stores I never actually patronize. Anyway, whenever I walk through Neiman Marcus to get to their mecca of a bathroom, I find myself glancing at price tags, just for the fun of it. And as hard as I’ve tried (which, admittedly, is not very hard), I’ve never found anything with less than three digits before the decimal place.

I have to confess, I don’t get it. I mean, I do get why people spend more than my mother would on clothes. My mom would die if she ever knew how much I spent on bras, but a good bra makes all the difference in the world. I’ll pay reasonable money for jeans, or for a coat, and I will always get the best running shoes possible, no matter what the price tag says. And I appreciate that some stores sell better quality merchandise than others. However, even when I go to the King of Prussia mall determined to spend a little money on myself, nine times out of ten I end up back at J.C. Penney’s. I certainly don’t understand how people could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on an item of clothing (erm, unless it’s a wedding dress).

The thing is – and this is a fairly ugly confession – I do judge women by the clothing they wear. I see a woman in designer clothing, and I’m almost positive we will not be friends. I’ve made progress on this – there was a time I was convinced every woman in designer clothing was a Mean Girl. But I’ve learned that’s not true, and now I’m just convinced that we won’t have much in common. There is a definite stereotype that comes with high fashion, and I certainly follow it, whether it’s right to do so or not.

So Confessions of a Shopaholic already had one big strike against it: I wasn’t sure I’d be able to empathize with the heroine. Strike number two was that it was a romantic comedy. I have nothing against a good romantic comedy, but those elusive beasts are few and far between. And strike three was that it was a total chick flick, so getting my Y-chromosomed husband to watch it was completely out of the question. But he traveled and I needed a girly fix (and a movie to review), so I bought it from On Demand, grabbed some chocolate, and watched.

It was an odd movie. The basic premise is that Becky (Isla Fisher), an aspiring fashion journalist, gets a job writing a column for a financial magazine. Her column becomes incredibly popular because she actually writes about money in terms that non-economists can understand, despite the fact that she doesn’t take any of her own good advice. Becky is a shopaholic, and that dependence on shopping actually impacts her life in terms of debt, her relationships, and her career. And, of course, as this is all a romantic comedy, mushed in with all this is the fact that she meets the man of her dreams.

As a romantic comedy, frankly, it sucks. I can suspend disbelief to a point, but I couldn’t here. A girl gets involved with her boss and everyone smiles indulgently? No one ever points out to either of them what an incredibly bad idea this is? And of course we have the obligatory misunderstanding, the bonding montage, the dramatic reclaiming (although it wasn’t so bad on that one)… it just… no. Everything you hate about romantic comedies? It’s here.

But.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is two movies rolled into one, and if they’d cut out the romantic comedy part and kept the parts about Becky actually being a shopaholic and addicted to the thrill of acquisition, it could have been a reasonably good movie. I know an addiction to shopping seems laughable, but as someone who’s battled with compulsive eating for years can tell you, not all addictions are gritty and needle-injected or alcoholic. But I have to admit, I kind of snorted at the idea of shopping being an addiction as well. Then I started listening to what they were saying, and I started getting it. Shopping isn’t an addiction for me, but I certainly have those days when I feel like only a brownie can make me feel better, and it does… for a few minutes. And then it wears off and if you aren’t careful, the urge comes back again and again and again… So yeah. I really, really got that part of the movie, and it was fairly well done.

In addition to the addiction storyline, I really, really liked the friendship between Rebecca and her best friend Suze. Aside from the fact that they actually acted like friends, I actually kind of really liked both girls. Suze (Krysten Ritter) comes across as a ditz but genuinely sweet and truly caring for her friend Rebecca, and Rebecca is just… I mean, I didn’t want to like her. I totally want to mock her, I really do. But Isla Fisher has this odd charm that’s half Clueless-era Alicia Silverstone, half Amy-Adams, and she’s really kind of funny and adorable and I can’t quite point and mock because she really did do a good job.

But although there was some good in here, the romance part really kind of overwhelmed it. I found myself cringing in horror more often than I was laughing, and I am quite sure I will forget this movie very quickly. (At least, there are parts that I’m really hoping so.) If you’re a fan of the book, it might be worth it to you, but otherwise, give this one a pass, even if you’re looking for a girly movie. There are definitely better ones out there.

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Just to be clear: This movie has nothing for the guys.

Intermission!

  • That has nothing to do with the movie itself!
  • The Star Cinema Grill, despite appearing to be a common multiplex, is in fact a fully functioning dinner theater, with tables and real food and everything.  In other words, kind of like the Alamo Drafthouse, except it’s called the Star Cinema Grill.
  • One of the pitfalls of seeing a movie like this in the theaters–and this can really be said of any movie, but especially this type–is the calibre of strangers one will have to endure.  Immediately to the right of our group–of which my sister was the rightmost member–sat a pair of chatty teen girls.  The very picture of oblivion, they failed to cease their “and he was like, and I was like, and like” nonsense when the previews ended, and, a few tense seconds later, were gently instructed to quiet themselves.
  • I had spent the brief interim hunched over slightly and giggling with mischievous glee inside, because I was pretty sure I knew what was coming.
  • And when I say “gently instructed”… Remember the part in T2 when the T-1000 gooshes into the helicopter cockpit, turns to the pilot, and very matter-of-factly says “get out”?  Just like that.  It was awesome.  Wish you could’ve been there.
  • And I’m totally not against some whispering now and then; if you want to make the occasional snide remark, or you need to tell someone you’re going to the bathroom in case you get kidnapped or whatever, that’s fine.  But those girls went from full-throttle conversation-volume nattering to absolute dead silence in the space of roughly no seconds, and stayed that way for the entire movie.  Not a peep.
  • It isn’t that my sister is a bully or anything, she just sees no reason to take any crap off of anyone ever, for any amount of time.  It actually kind of makes me nervous, because she won’t hesitate to pick a fight with someone much bigger than her (read: roughly everyone) if they have it coming, and although she’s never needed my help yet, I worry that she may still be counting on it, as a result of my making the inexcusable oversight of failing to ever mention what a tremendous wimp I am.
  • Rebecca’s insult of the Finnish advertiser is actually quite clever. If he says she mistranslated what he was saying or that she’s lying, it’s hard to know if he’s telling the truth or covering his own behind.
  • There are actually some funny spots. Wow.
  • John Goodman and Joan Cusack make a very entertaining married couple.
  • But apparently she had her daughter when she was 14.

Groovy Quotes

Rebecca: WHAT’S BEHIND YOU?!
Luke: Um…
Rebecca: Oh my god; Oh, it’s a naked man. Sorry, that gave me such a fright. I, uh… I didn’t know what it was, it’s… clearly he’s beheaded. Who would do that to him?
Luke: (clears throat) Alright, well, a few questions…”
Rebecca: But look! I mean, makes you wonder what they’re looking at on the fifth floor, right?

Rebecca Bloomwood: When I was 7 most of my friends stopped believing in magic. That’s when I first started. They were beautiful, they were happy. They didn’t even need any money, they had magic cards.

Rebecca Bloomwood: When I shop, the world gets better, and the world is better, but then it’s not, and I need to do it again.

Rebecca Bloomwood: Men like you are the reason I left Finland.

Rebecca Bloomwood: They said I was a valued customer. Now they send me hate mail.

Tarquin: Why do so many of your excuses involve Finland?

Rebecca Bloomwood: Because nobody checks up on Finland, Tarkie.

Graham Bloomwood: Your mother and I think that if the American economy can be billions in debt and still survive, so can you.

If you liked this movie, try these:

    • Clueless
    • The Devil Wears Prada
    • Legally Blonde
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