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IN SHORT: "Tastes like a Lemon Soda!" [Rated PG for Some Mild Language and Thematic Elements. 100 minutes]
Forgive the reference to a 1950s-ish heartburn potion (something called Brioski) but; sometimes a stream of consciousness connection is more accurate than any one could believe. TRUE, yours Cranky had no desire to sit for anything with the word "shopaholic" in the title. Then we thought, how different is that attitude than femme views of male obsessions about things like cars or Star Wars or comic books, all of which have obsessive fanboy movies in release or coming out in the next few months. So, still recovering from a mild run in with some bad egg salad, we planted near the theater door closest to the men's room -- food poisoning sucks -- and watched.
Confessions of a Shopaholic is the story of a bright eyed bushy tailed, so to speak, ambitious 25 year old cutie named Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher). She aims to be a successful writer at a New York mega-fashion magazine called Alette but slaves away at a lesser gig to make the rent on the apartment she shares with best friend Suze (Krysten Ritter). Even though Suze's parents own the apartment and neither has to worry all that much about the maintenance - lucky lucky girls - they do their best to behave like real adults. Rebecca, though, has a small problem. She seems to have a personal and intimate relationship with every mannequin in every high fashion display window that the elite stores of Manhattan possess. Needing to accessorize for a major interview at Alette, Rebecca tears through what's left of every credit card she has left to try to pay for a green scarf. She falls twenty dollars short, but in desperation a door is opened and a kind New York stranger with a Brit accent saves the day. She gets the scarf. She goes for the interview and . . .
Short day. The position has already been filled in-house by a long legged blonde, Alicia Billington (Leslie Bibb). Becky is advised to crash the interviews for a position at Successful Saving magazine, since both it and Alette are published by the same group. Group promotes from inside the house. It's a back door in. And the editor of Successful Saving just happens to be the same New York stranger with a Brit Accent who covered the cost of that green scarf. He is Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy). He will be the starry eyed girl's love interest, for a bit. He will have no interest in what Ms. Bloomwood has to offer.
Depressed, Becky and Suze turn to tequila shots and, eventually, two letters go out. One to Alette magazine. One to Successful Saving. One, surprisingly, gets her a job. One provides a wee bit of comic enjoyment to those of us in the viewing audience. So Ms. Bloomwood begins a new job, googling all the financial background she needs to write a column about how beginning adults with no money can be fiscally responsible.
At this point, combined with the fact that Isla Fisher is just cute as a button, we began to settle in to our seat and our stern critical facade began to crack. Indeed, something resembling a giggle started to bubble deep down in our diaphragm. Consider the irony of a baby-step taking writer advising similar young adults how to be fiscally responsible when she, herself, has a personal relationship with every high fashion mannequin in every shop window on Madison Avenue. Rebecca's credit card debt has, as you may have guessed from the green scarf incident, soared to the ozone. She says it's somewhere in the vicinity of sixteen thousand dollars, and has the loot to prove it. Thus, her stalker, a debt collector called Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton), tasked to collect nine thousand of it. He's a persistent git, too.
Becky is prepared to beg her parental units for some cash. But Jane and Graham (Joan Cusack and John Goodman), who have been hoarding every spare penny for years, have already spent every cent on the one thing every Manhattan-ite needs. A monster RV camper. That plus the fact that she knows absolutely nothing about finance to write about and the utter temptation of a word of mouth designer sample sales -- Prada and Gucci at 50% off! -- sends Ms. Bloomwood into her own version of a personal hell.
The only solution: Shopaholics Anonymous, with a scene stealing group leader called Korch (Wendie Malick). Korch's intervention will break Becky and Suze's friendship into little, probably unfixable pieces. Ah who are we kidding . . .
Have we mentioned that Becky has a mild infatuation with her green scarf savior slash new boss? Did we need to? Or that he already has a girlfriend, sorta kinda; that skinny blonde B'yotch that nailed the job Becky wanted at Alette? OR that everyone just seems to love this bright bubbly ambitious and cute as a button new addition to the magazine world? OR the multitude of ex-SNL cast member is bit parts across the film. OR the ominous presence of John Lithgow as corporate god to the magazine group at the center of the story. OR the other ominous presence of Alette publisher Alette Naylor (Kristin Scott Thomas), who tests the new girl -- word gets around -- and dangles the world Becky wants in front of her, like a worm on a hook.
All right, now we have. Dear Readers, Cranky is a straight man. Giggles and eye candy can only go so far and Confessions of a Shopaholic is all fluff and lightweight plot point crisis. It is humorous enough to keep the dating guys from melting into their seats (the way John Goodman's face now seems to be melting into his body. Perhaps the most shocking part of the film). The film is totally disposable and just as enjoyable, thanks to Ms. Fisher's disarming presence and bubbly personality.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Confessions of a Shopaholic, he would have paid . . .
Dateflick. Get one. Take one.
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