‘Shopaholic’ makes debt funny again

Meghan Bogardus

On the outside, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” looks the same as some of the other films that have been recently released. It’s set in New York, the heroine is a journalist and there are some pretty fabulous clothes.

In spite of the similarities, “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is no “Devil Wears Prada” or “Sex in the City.” In fact, it is much better.

The “shopaholic” referred to in the movie’s title is Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), who is everything that a “realistic” aspiring journalist and fashion aficionado would be. She is in debt thousands of dollars due to her addiction to shopping. At the time, she is working at a teeny gardening magazine that goes bankrupt within the movie’s first half hour.

Real quick:

Confessions of a Shopaholic


Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, John Goodman

Directed by

P.J. Hogan

Distributed by

Buena Vista Pictures

Rated PG Runtime 1 hr. 45 min.

Stater rating (out of five): ☆☆☆☆

In spite of this, Rebecca soldiers on with the hope of landing a job at a popular fashion magazine. Instead she finds herself with an interview at a financial magazine, which she screws up after running into a glass door and making inappropriate exclamations about a billboard of a half-naked man.

Strangely enough, Rebecca gets the job based on the merits of her writing in a letter mistakenly sent to the magazine’s editor (Hugh Dancy) after a hilarious drunken night with her best friend, Suze (Krysten Ritter).

At the magazine, Rebecca stumbles her way into a reoccurring column where she gives financial advice as “The Girl in the Green Scarf,” using clothes as metaphors for financial problems.

Rebecca’s column becomes an overnight success, and it becomes more pertinent that she hide her debt – a task that is not made easier by a debt shark who’s on her tail, which makes for some pretty funny situations involving an unfortunate ringtone and a string of excuses including ski accidents and a reoccurring dead aunt.

Rebecca may be most notably a serious debtor, but she is also a pathological liar and a clumsy and socially awkward individual. Yet, like the characters in the film, I found myself entirely charmed by her jubilance and hilarity.

Isla Fisher, who got her slapstick humor experience in “Wedding Crashers,” is infectious, effervescent and entirely hilarious. She plays Rebecca’s clumsy, awkward and impulsive character with a charm that makes the viewer want to believe her silly lies. I mean, there is absolutely no way that a girl this winsome could possibly be in that serious of trouble – until she is found out.

Yet, even though Rebecca has essentially betrayed her boss (and romantic interest) and hurt her best friend, like Rebecca’s parents (the hysterical and underused Joan Cusack and John Goodman) I find myself unable to dislike her for what she has done.

The movie is not entirely without flaws, but they are almost minuscule compared to the hilarity and charm of the rest of the film. One of these is the absurd (and somewhat creepy) use of mannequins that move and talk to Rebecca in her imagination.

Another and more substantial one is Rebecca’s sudden and definitely underdeveloped romance with Hugh Dancy’s character, her boss, Luke Brandon.

Though Luke is shown early as Rebecca’s counterpart because both are attempting to escape the lives of their parents, their relationship escalates and then seems to disappear.

However, this seems like something that could be remedied by a sequel, and with three more in the book series by author Sophie Kinsella, one seems likely.

Many critics have found fault with the fact that the film came out at a horrible time due to the economic situation. Though a funny film about debt seems paradoxical, I found it brightening. In the realm of this silly movie, Rebecca’s debt seems cosmetic, and if anything, it doesn’t ruin her life, it makes it better.

It is when she is forced to reevaluate everything she realizes what the audience was able to see the whole time: There is more to Rebecca Bloomwood than her clothes.

Contact all correspondent Meghan Bogardus at [email protected].