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16 April 2024

Who cares for a shopaholic in a credit crisis?

Fisher's love for spending doesn't seem appropriate during a credit crunch. (SUPPLIED)

By Michael Rechtshaffen

The Disney marketing folks behind Confessions of a Shopaholic have been suggesting that they have another Pretty Woman in the bag. Let the buyer beware.

Despite its top-quality cast, a bankable director (PJ Hogan) and enticing source material (Sophie Kinsella best-sellers), the end product is charmless – a shrill Devil Wears Prada/Sex and the City knockoff that threatens to fall apart at the seams.

All those frayed ends hold together just enough to provide sufficient distraction for its targeted female audience, but one wonders how all that conspicuous consumption is going to go over in these economically scaled-back times.

After proving her considerable comic range in Wedding Crashers and Definitely, Maybe, Isla Fisher is Rebecca Bloomwood, a spirited New Yorker with a credit card for every occasion. As fate would have it, while she harbours fantasies of working for her favourite fashion magazine, Alette, Rebecca ends up getting a gig at the parent company's financial magazine, where she becomes an instant sensation writing a column under the moniker, the Girl in the Green Scarf.

Oh yeah, she also catches the fancy of its boyish British editor and socialite's son, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), while also doggedly being pursued by a grim reaper of a credit card debt collector (Robert Stanton).

While all the customary rom-com elements are in place – including an extensive supporting cast of such consummate pros as John Goodman and Joan Cusack (as eccentric Fisher's parents), John Lithgow, Julie Hagerty and Kristin Scott Thomas in a welcome comedic turn as Alette's oh-so-French editor – Shopaholic quickly maxes out its welcome.

That energetic flourish Hogan brought to films like Muriel's Wedding and My Best Friend's Wedding is in scant evidence here, replaced by a frantic forcefulness.

More problematic is Fisher's character, which piles on the ditz at the expense of audience identification.