‘Shopaholic’ adaptation falls off its high heels

It’s tempting to compare “Confessions of a Shopaholic” to “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006). Both chick flicks, based on books, center around aspiring journalists involved in one way or another in the fashion world. But comparing the two would be like comparing Claire’s and Cartier. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is essentially a fairy tale for the fashion crowd. The film succeeds as a mindless comedy but does not soar as a fabulous book-turned-film fashion fix like “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Adapted from the book series of the same name written by Sophie Kinsella (the pseudonym of Madeleine Wickham), “Confessions of a Shopaholic” stars Isla Fisher as Rebecca Bloomwood — a journalist desperate to kick her shopping addiction and get her life on track. Bloomwood, a bubbly, materialistic fashion fiend, has a weakness for gorgeous things that has gotten her into a world of debt — $16,000 to be exact. She lives in Manhattan, the most dangerous playground for a girl with a fashion addiction, in a beautiful flat with her best friend Suze (played by Krysten Ritter). Fortunately for Rebecca, Suze covers the rent and puts up with her irresponsibility.

When Rebecca is fired from her job at a fashion magazine and desperate for some much-needed bailout money, her only chance is to work as a columnist at a financial magazine, a position for which she is clearly ill-suited. The film follows Rebecca’s blunders as she struggles to keep up with her new job, avoid overspending and find the man of her dreams.

The only discernible difference between the books and film is that the British wit seems to have gotten lost, along with Bloomwood’s astuteness. It’s hard to tell what is more agitating: her exploits throughout the film or the 12-year-old girls giggling in the theater. The film’s plot is entirely predictable and traces the same lines as most other lackluster romantic comedies.

Fisher and Hugh Dancy as her boss, Luke Brandon, are quite decent, but the performances of the rest of the cast are completely sub-par. On a whole, the quality of the acting is poorer than a fashion addict after a shopping spree.

The movie still has a few good moments, though; Bloomwood’s initial encounter with Brandon is priceless. While mindlessly strolling down Madison Avenue, a sign advertising a sample sale leads Rebecca astray, only to find herself persuaded by animate mannequins (yes, there are talking mannequins in this film) to invest in an unneeded scarf. When her four credit cards are declined, she finds herself begging a hot dog vendor to return her lunch money. Fortunately for Rebecca, a lovely gentleman standing beside her slips her a $20 bill, and off she goes.

Because this is a Hollywood romantic comedy, Rebecca’s prince charming turns out to be her future editor and subsequent love interest. Thankfully for the movie, Hugh Dancy is perfect as Luke Brandon, a British treat who will no doubt captivate most of the audience and distract them from the more agonizing aspects of the film.

Ironically though, the central failure of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is its lack of style. As if the film was not unbearable enough, Rebecca’s fashion sense is completely tortuous. She often looks like a cracked-out Carrie Bradshaw at a Technicolor Marc Jacobs after-party. This resemblance is not surprising, however, considering that Patricia Field, the award-winning stylist for “Sex and the City,” was the stylist for “Shopaholic” as well. It’s hard to decide which is more nauseating: the leopard dress, hot pink tights and leopard boot combination or the orange, shag teddy-bear attacking her shoulders. Whatever the case, this movie will not get the “haute” hospitality that might have been expected from the Voguettes in the crowd.

Those in the mood for a glamorized movie of no caliber and entertained by the sight of a woman cracking open a literally frozen credit card with a stiletto heel will surely be delighted by this fluffy comedic spectacle. Viewers who consider themselves the more cultured, sophisticated type, however, should take their money elsewhere and stimulate the economy in a more worthwhile manner.


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