Perky Isla Fisher can't distract us from a wrongheaded celebration of excess in "Confessions of a Shopaholic."
It's mildly tacky to release a film called "Confessions of a Shopaholic" in the midst of a recession. Actually, let's rephrase that -- it's downright tacky to glorify excessive, irresponsible spending when news reports of financial doom and gloom are unavoidable.
Tacky's the word for the blindingly label-centric wardrobe of Becky Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), who's not only suffering from a case of credit card woes due to all that mindless Gucci, but also flailing in the deep end of a pool of Patricia Field's styling vomit.
"Confessions of a Shopaholic's" promos make the film seem as alluring as a sample sale, what with the endless montage of Technicolor garments and sparkly shoes, but it ultimately leaves you with the same feeling a collections notice does: hopeless. Fisher, though adorable with that squishy little nose and flawless auburn hair, isn't ready to carry an entire film and wobbles along unsteadily on her designer heels. She's a hands-on, physical comedian, but the gags are petty: clothes flying willy-nilly out of a closet crammed with SpaceBags, goofy dancing, catfights over boots.
Hugh Dancy, as Becky's boss (and crush) Luke Brandon, is charmingly British, like another certain charming British Hugh, but he can't rescue the movie from the sap. From the atrocious "empowering" soundtrack to the self-realization Becky finally comes to while staring at the ocean, "Confessions" is akin to Becky's discovery about a coat she's purchased: "95 percent acrylic, 5 percent cashmere."
Had "Confessions" been truer to its chick-lit novel inspiration, the movie could have been fizzily enjoyable instead of sickening. It's hard to sympathize with Becky, whose problems mount and then disappear, bada-bing, like nothing had happened in the first place. Too much sugar, not enough substance.
Kara Nesvig is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.