'Shopaholic' a sexist stereotype
Though the timing on "Confessions of a Shopaholic" couldn't have been worse - the idea of reveling in wretched excess when untold thousands are losing their homes, their jobs, their minds - there really is no appropriate moment for a shrill onslaught that perpetuates the worst stereotypes about female materialism.
To be fair, there are a couple of men at the shopaholics anonymous meetings Isla Fisher's character reluctantly attends, one of whom is played by former NBA star John Salley in one of many baffling casting choices.
The effervescent redhead Fisher, who made a splash in "Wedding Crashers" but proved she could really act, too, in the little-seen noir "The Lookout," brings a bright energy to the role of compulsive shopper Rebecca Bloomwood but is too often trapped in hackneyed slapstick and cat fights.
There's something a little daffy and dangerous lurking beneath her perky cuteness, which this PG-rated, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced explosion of color and noise never puts to best use.
Instead, Rebecca comes off as a watered-down, latter-day Carrie Bradshaw, complete with a job as a journalist and a wardrobe designed by Patricia Field - even though the Sophie Kinsella books that inspired the movie, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" (2001) and "Shopaholic Takes Manhattan" (2002), came out right in the "Sex and the City" heyday. You know, back when it was still safe, if not glamorous, to consume frivolously. Homage or cheap knock-off? You make the call.
The plot - as if it matters, since "Confessions" is mostly about label worship - follows Rebecca's futile attempts at reducing her credit card debt of more than $16,000, even as she hypocritically writes a magazine column about smart shopping. "A store can awaken a lust for things you never even knew you needed," she rhapsodizes in frequent voiceovers.
Hugh Dancy co-stars as the love interest. John Goodman, Joan Cusack, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas and Lynn Redgrave are among the talents squandered in meager supporting roles in this PG-rated disappointment.
*Score: One and a half stars out of four.