After commandeering laughter from audiences in such films as Wedding Crashers and Hot Rod, Isla Fisher took the next big step: a starring role in a Jerry Bruckheimer production. That production turned out to be Confessions of a Shopaholic, a film not particularly well-received by critics of any kind (except Pete Hammond whose quote is splattered on the bottom of the cover), but still one that did admirably at the box office (a hair over $100 million worldwide). Considering the biggest name talent in the film, Fisher aside, were her parents played by Joan Cusack and John Goodman, that’s not too shabby of a number.
When fashionista Rebecca Bloomwood’s (Isla Fisher) out-of-control spending reaches the outer limits of her credit cards, she is forced to find employment to pay for her label-icious wardrobe. Her dream job is a position at New York’s top fashion rag Alette, but she has to settle for a desk at Successful Saving, a struggling financial magazine owned by the same publishing company. With a dogged debt collector (Robert Stanton) hot on her stilettos, Becky becomes the unlikely author of a column on saving money—with a little help from her friends at Google. Her unconventional outlook on money matters attracts the approval of her dreamy boss, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), and Becky begins to think maybe there is a whole new world waiting for her just a few steps away from Madison Avenue.
I knew from the cover of the film that this was nowhere near my type of outing—a romantic comedy that, by the very construction of the film, would in no way appeal to a guy who spends his time looking at cars online, and within ten minutes I found myself already counting down the time till the time when this film would be over. Now, mind you, this film did receive a pretty woeful set of reviews from the critics, but as far as the romantic comedy genre goes it wasn’t any more or less original than your latest Matthew McConaughey outing that seems to delight audiences. In fact, Confessions real only disadvantage was it didn’t have a PG-13 rating to toss in some saltier sex-infused dialogue; I call this a disadvantage because that is the only reason I can think that critics slammed this film so hard in comparison with other films of the genre.
At its core Confessions of a Shopaholic is a syrupy sweet story about a girl who can’t keep her spending under control and eventually learns her lesson in the end thanks to friends and family. It’s got a few moral lessons tossed about, I suppose, but really the whole point of the story is just the girl getting the guy and overcoming the evil debt collector. I can see where the film could’ve been a bit lighter on its feet, as at 105 minutes it feels a bit plump around the edges with all of the “Shopaholics Anonymous” meeting fluff that only further expands the storyline into territory it never really feels like it recovers from.
So, sure, the film has its flaws and even as a guy who had zero interest in the film (ok, so Isla Fisher is nice to look at…but not for 105 minutes), I still picked up on them. But quite honestly this isn’t a story that is meant to be picked apart relentlessly by critics or myself—it’s a light, breezy film that really played its part during Valentine’s Day weekend and outside of that you can’t really expect more from it. It’s predictable on all levels and you know from the beginning this isn’t going to be a very serious romantic comedy…just something akin to Fever Pitch or any number of other romantic comedies that fly by without anyone remembering.
Overall the cast does their job in making for an attractive and lively bunch to look at and there are a few laughs here and there…but, again, nothing that really will bowl you over with its uniqueness or ingenuity. It may make you sick to your stomach to learn how much some people pay for a freakin’ scarf, however. Worth a Rental for the right audience (i.e., romantic comedy lovers who are easily pleased).
Confessions of a Shopaholic arrives on two-disc Blu-ray (don’t worry—second disc is a digital copy) in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with a plain cardboard o-ring (not even any embossing or foil…just the exact same art as what’s underneath it). Also included is some “Fashion Cash” insert that’s worth $10…so if you compare that to the clothes in the film that means you can buy the price tag off of something. Disc art mimics the front cover and the menus are simple and easy to navigate.
Video arrives in the form of an AVC encoded 2.40:1 transfer that brings to the screen this film fairly well in 1080p. It’s a modern production so everything looks properly crisp and clear, while the outfits worn by the cast (Fisher in particular) pop off the screen with an intensity you can only get with Blu-ray. Of course that ultimately means jack, because to really care about the clothes in the film you’d have to get rather invested in it…something I wasn’t able to do, but hey it was fun to pick out the detail on clothes and hair. Audio is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix and…really? This is the last film I would ever require to hear with a DTS-HD track, but kudos to Disney for keeping things consistent on their releases, I guess. In any case the audio reproduces the sound in the front channels remarkably well, with no distortion or hiss of any kind. The sound levels did sound like they jumped rather abruptly at some points though, mostly when something “surprising” happened on the screen…but it wasn’t a big deal. Also included are French and Spanish DD5.1 tacks as well as English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Moving onto the extras we get:
• Deleted Scenes
• “Stuck with Each Other” Music Video by Shontelle Featuring Akon
• “Accessory” Music Video by Jordan Taylor
• “Takes Time to Love” Music Video by Trey Songz
• Behind the Fashion – A collection of insider peeks at the making of Confessions of a Shopaholic, including:
o Wardrobe by Patricia Field – The renowned fashion designer takes viewers into her studio and shares some of the secrets of her outrageous creative process.
o Temple of Shopping – The inspiration for Rebecca Bloomwood’s fashion wonderland is finally revealed.
o The Green Scarf – Fans will learn more about the all-important accessory that drives Rebecca to take desperate measures.
o New York Fashion Central – A style-centric tour of the home of more shopaholics per square foot than anywhere else on the planet.
o Sample Sale Madness – The filming of the film’s hilariously chaotic shopping spree.
o Window Shopping – The Shopaholic team brings store windows to life along shopping mecca Madison Avenue.
The “Behind the Fashion” bit is a Blu-ray exclusive, so if you picked up this release…hooray! You have a six part documentary to watch! It’s not that long, however (none of the extras are), but if you enjoyed the film then it’s worth a look I suppose.
Overall a decent release for a mildly entertaining film (again, if you’re a member of the right audience). Worth a Rental.
Confessions of a Shopaholic arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 23rd.