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Confessions of a Shopaholic

(2009) * 1/2 Pg
105 min. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution. Director: P.J. Hogan. Cast: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, Wendie Malick, Ed Helms, Fred Armisen.

/content/films/3468/1.jpgHollywood likes nothing more than having its cake and eating it too, which explains the confusions of P.J. Hogan’s Confessions of a Shopaholic. Talented comic actor Isla Fisher plays Rebecca Bloomwood, a scrappy journalist with twelve nearly maxed-out credit cards and a mountain of debt. Though she has yet to admit it, she’s also a certified shopaholic in need of a support group and some tough love.

Meanwhile, she’s lying her way to the top of the magazine industry and into a romance with Hugh Dancy’s Luke Brandon, editor of "Successful Saving" Magazine. Quel ironic! Anything's better than "Gardening Today," but Rebecca still pines for a job at "Alette" Magazine, the high-fashion glossfest that shares a publisher (John Lithgow) with "Successful Saving." From his little corner of the publishing biz, Luke hopes to save the world, or at least shake up corporate America. Taking a chance on Rebecca as an Everywoman columnist, he christens her "The Girl in the Green Scarf" and charges her with fashioning fashion metaphors to explain fiscal practices. To keep her career on the rise, Rebecca--with the help of best friend and roomie Suze (Krysten Ritter)--must keep at bay the tenacious Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton) of All City Debt Collection.

Rebecca's penniless parents (John Goodman and Joan Cusack) aren't in a position to be more than sympathetic. "If the American economy can be billions in debt and still survive, so can you," Dad offers. Through narration, Rebecca offers clues as to her warped logic and dysfunction born of what she sees as a deprived American childhood: "When I looked into shop windows, I saw another world. A dreamy world full of perfect things," she says, and "A man will never love you or treat you as well as a store." It's not hard to guess that Rebecca will see the error of her ways and reject "Alette" (personified by Kristin Scott Thomas' editor-in-chief Alette), trounce the leggy rival (Leslie Bibb) who has her job and perhaps the man she desires (he speaks Prada!), and win Luke's everlasting love.

Given the economic collapse brought on by the late-oughts credit crunch, this could be the stuff of a tough-minded dark comedy, but instead director Hogan's resolutely average movie (based on Sophie Kinsella's books Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan) crams a disturbing, addictive social disorder into a candy-colored romp that can’t decide whether it loves or hates the pricy fashions at Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent (and Henri Bendel, from whence Rebecca scored that green scarf). If the film were at all tough-minded, it could justify as satire the catfight over Gucci boots at a sample sale, but here it comes off as run-of-the-mill chick-flick misogyny. Rebecca learns the lesson of fiscal responsibility—sort of—after an unrealistic series of rescues, but even in the end, she’s sharing a conspiratorial wink with the decked-out shop mannequins who have been her demons.

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Aspect ratios: 2.40:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 6/23/2009

Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Disney delivers a dazzling A/V transfer of Confessions of a Shopaholic on Blu-ray. The film's extreme color palette gets an accurate rendering here in a spotless and clear hi-def transfer that's free of digital artifacts. The depth of the image is quite solid, considering washed out shadow detail that seems endemic to the source material. This isn't remotely the movie to show off one's sound system, but the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 can nevertheless be considered definitive in transferring to disc this mix of a brand-new film.

Bonus features kick off with a section called Behind the Fashion, comprising six self-explanatory featurettes: "Wardrobe by Patricia Field" (3:03, HD) with costume designer Field, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and director P.J. Hogan; "Temple of Shopping" (2:32, HD) with Hogan, production designer Kristi Zea, and Henri Bendel CEO Ed Bucciarelli; "The Green Scarf" (1:33, HD) with Field and Hogan; "New York: Fashion Central" (2:34, HD) with Hogan, Bruckheimer, Isla Fisher, Krysten Ritter, Hugh Dancy, Kristin Scott Thomas, Leslie Bibb, Robert Stanton, and Zea; "Sample Sale Madness" (1:58, HD) with Fisher, Zea, Hogan and Bruckheimer; and "Window Shopping" (1:50, HD) with ILM visual effects supervisor John Knoll, Bruckheimer, executive producer Ron Bozman, art director Paul D. Kelly, Zea, Asprey head visual consultant and stylist Alton DuLaney, and Hogan.

Four Deleted Scenes (6:39, HD) are a nice extra for fans wanting to see what didn't make the cut, and "Bloopers of a Shopaholic" (2:07, SD) will likewise be welcome.

Last up are three Music Videos: "Stuck With Each Other" by Shontelle featuring Akon (3:25, SD), "Accessory" by Jordyn Taylor (3:23, SD), and "Takes Time To Love" by Trey Songz (2:32, SD).

A second disc carries a Digital Copy for flexibility of portable playback.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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