A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although most of the content in this by-the-book romantic comedy is age-appropriate for older tweens and young teens (there's little swearing and drinking and no nudity or violence), it's swimming in consumerism and high-end product placement and reinforces some broad stereotypes about women. Despite being chastened in the end, the main character seems downright naïve -- and a tad unapologetic -- about her shop-'til-you're-bankrupt ways. Kids may enjoy the fantasy, but parents may find that the frothy "escapism" feels out of place in these unsettled economic times.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After a chance encounter, twentysomething writer Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) leaves her boring job at a trade publication behind for a stint at Successful Savings, a money magazine she hopes will be a stepping stone to her dream job at Vogue-like style tome Alette. Rebecca's a diehard fashionista with a talent for churning out readable, enjoyable copy -- a skill that has turned her into something of a finance guru. Ironically, she pays for her chic splurges with credit cards, and she's so woefully in debt that a collector's nipping at her Manolos. How will she outwit him and prevent her handsome editor, Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), from discovering that she's a finance "whiz" who may be destined for the poorhouse?
Is it any good?
Here's the question that runs through your mind after watching CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC: Is that all there is to it? (Which makes it a little like shopping on credit cards.) Delightful in parts but regrettably not as a whole, the movie can't seem to decide what audiences should take away from it. The shopping segments are all Sex and the City-style aspiration, but the guilt is soon heaped on in piles. What, then, is the point of dwelling on the buying binges? Had the movie amped up the fantasy part and toned down the finger-wagging, it would've been first-class escapism. As it stands, it's a lot like having your credit card denied at the checkout -- oh, what a buzz kill!
Fisher tries hard to make a go of the enterprise, but she can't rescue the film's flawed script. A jumble of plot points raises the stakes but doesn't pay off, characters who seem important early on disappear later, and nearly every role is a romcom stereotype -- the eccentric-but-lovable lead; the gawky, fun best friend; the slightly brooding, self-serious romantic interest. It's too bad, really, because on paper, Shopaholic had the makings of a blockbuster: inspired by bestselling novels, beautiful New York as its backdrop, and a stellar cast (especially supporting players like John Goodman and Joan Cusack). It's an impulse buy you may not fully regret, but one you won't love, either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Rebecca's nonstop shopping and spending. Is her behavior really all that unusual, or do lots of people overspend? What makes shopping so addictive for some people? And what are the real-life consequences of behavior like Rebecca's? Do you think the movie makes her behavior seem acceptable? Is she intended to be a role model? If so, what "lessons" is she teaching teen girls about responsibility? In the end, what message do you think the movie sends teens about the importance of high-end brands and having lots of stuff?
- In theaters: February 13, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: June 23, 2009
- Cast: Hugh Dancy, Isla Fisher, Joan Cusack
- Director: P.J. Hogan
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild language and thematic elements
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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