Confessions of a Shopaholic is a silly comedy about a serious addict. In this case, the addict is Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), who gets a near-sexual thrill out of the act of buying clothes. She is so addicted to shopping that when she passes a store window, the mannequins actually speak to her, giving her sales pitches.
If this were an independent film – or a film made in France – the movie would end with her destitute and living on the street. It is not, this is a Hollywood romantic comedy, which means that Rebecca’s serious addiction will lead to a great job at a magazine, comic mishaps and a romance with a cute guy. It also wants us to believe the impossible. For example, the irony that she is the daughter of blue collar extremely understanding parents (John Goodman and Joan Cusack) who have saved every penny they ever earned.
You can’t buy the plot for one solitary moment, but you find yourself drawn into this hapless comedy by its one redeeming element: The performance of Isla Fisher. She was the little firecracker who fell for Vince Vaughn in The Wedding Crashers and she retains some of that crazy spark here. She has a manic way of diving into a situation with near-violent determination as when she goes to 50% off sale and comes to blows with another shopaholic over a pair of boots.
Fisher bears a strange resemblance to Amy Adams. She’s not nearly as sharp as Adams, but she is no less charming. The preposterous plot is spurred by her infectious charm. She has a lovable face, framed by a beautiful mane of light brown hair, and skin like porcelain. She has wide-eyes that sparkle when she is happy and grow dark when she is sad. The film’s art direction by Kristie Zea (who worked on The Silence of the Lambs) does Fisher a lot of favors. Everything is decorated like a store display, brightly lit with lots of bold colors. It brings out Fisher’s eyes and her beautiful hair. It also speaks to the rapture of Rebecca’s charge-card world.
I just wish that she were in a better movie. There isn’t a single moment of originality or creativity. It follows Rebecca’s attempts to make her way through a job writing a column in which she tries to help people organize their money. The irony, of course, is that she’s so bad money that a debt collector is stalking her like a bounty hunter. Oh-Ho! I wish it were possible to recommend a fun performance in a movie that is tired and ordinary, but I just can’t do that. All I can say is that if you do take the plunge, focus your attentions on Fisher’s bright, charming face. Do that, and then try to imagine a better movie for her – maybe one where she gets some serious help for her addiction.