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DVD Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic — Two-Disc Special Edition

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There’s not much to like about Confessions of a Shopaholic; even the possibility of a gauzy guilty pleasure movie that the trailers hint at is quickly dashed once the thing starts.

Fun ought to be the name of the game for a film like this, but it’s about as pleasurable as dealing with thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Its prospects certainly weren’t helped by the global recession it was released into — perhaps folks don’t find financial woe hilarious when they’re in the throes of it.

The bubbly Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) stars as fiscally reckless fashion hound Rebecca Bloomwood. It’s too bad her first leading role gets her plunked down into such a stinker of a script, as she seems to have the chops to handle it.

Rebecca’s a writer at a gardening magazine in New York City, but dreams of working for high fashion rag Alette. When a position opens up at an affiliated money publication, she leaps for it, hoping it will be a stepping-stone to the job she really craves.

Trouble is, she’s in no position to be advising anyone on financial matters. Her arsenal of credit cards has been maxed out thanks to a slew of impulse purchases, like a pair of boots she just had to have or a scarf that could transform her entire wardrobe.

Rebecca’s purchases are often spurred on by mannequins that come to life and urge her to buy, buy, buy — an idea that I’m sure someone, somewhere declared as brilliant, but is actually rather creepy.

Her editor Luke (Hugh Dancy, The Jane Austen Book Club) has no reason not to fire her immediately for her inability to even understand the financial terms he wants her to write about, but he ends up giving her a column where she anonymously spouts off advice in layman’s terms.

It becomes a huge hit, and as she falls for Luke at the same time, things seem perfect. Trouble is, she’s got a nasty debt collector on her path, and the truth about her financial situation threatens to come to the surface.

Confessions tediously tiptoes through rom-com conventions, without ever taking a serious look at Rebecca’s addiction to shopping. That might have been interesting and funny; instead we get prepackaged “I see the error of my ways, and I’m going to become a better person” nonsense after Rebecca becomes caught up in her new lifestyle and hurts best friend Suze (Krysten Ritter, 27 Dresses).

The worst part is, the film utterly wastes a talented supporting cast, including John Goodman and Joan Cusack as Rebecca’s parents, Kristin Scott Thomas as fashion icon Alette and John Lithgow as a magazine publisher. None of these roles carry any substantive amount of screen time, and none of these characters make much of an impact.

Confessions of a Shopaholic is dreary, dull and devoid of anything good — perhaps it’s the right film for a recession after all.

The Confessions of a Shopaholic two-disc special edition is hardly special, and if you just have to own it, the single disc version ought to do just fine. The paltry amount of special features includes four unremarkable deleted scenes, a short blooper reel and a music video for “Stuck with Each Other” by Shontelle. The second disc is simply a digital copy.

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About Dusty Somers

Dusty Somers is a Seattle-based editor and writer. He is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and Seattle Theater Writers.