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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Confessions of a Shopaholic (Blu-ray)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Blu-ray)
Touchstone // PG // June 23, 2009 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted June 23, 2009 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
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The first
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step's admitting you have a problem, right? So -- heavy breath -- here goes: Hi. My name's Adam, and I review Blu-ray discs...lots and lots and lots of Blu-ray discs. Yeah, I know I have a Y-chromosome that's supposed to act like an overzealous secret service agent and shield me from movies like this, and even though I already knew upfront that it'd scored a dismal 9% by the cream of the crop on Rotten Tomatoes, I liked Confessions of a Shopaholic anyway.

I blame Isla Fisher. After running away and stealing every scene in movies like Wedding Crashers, that red-headed pixie finally gets a chance to take the lead this time around. Fisher stars as Rebecca Bloomwood, a struggling kinda-sorta-journalist who's been leaning on a Prada bag overstuffed with maxed-out credit cards to fund her shopping addiction. Okay, so she's more fashion-savvy than her bank account can shoulder, but that doesn't steer her away from wanting to set up shop with the haute couture crowd at Alette magazine anyway. Turns out they filled the gig Becca was eyeing...and by a calculatingly cold, leggy blonde (Leslie Bibb) to boot. That's okay, though. Alette is part of a sprawling publishing empire, and if Rebecca can weasel her way into some other arm in their corporate family, it won't be long until she can hop from something mundane over to her dream job.

Oops.
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Rebecca doesn't just go cold into that interview with a joke of a financial rag, but she's stuck chatting with Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), an impossibly good lookin' Brit type she'd already met-cute with less than an hour earlier. It...yeah, doesn't go well, and the day just spirals further down the toilet when she and her pal Suze (Krysten Ritter) start digging through her mountain of credit card bills. In a drunken fit, she sends a seethingly spiteful letter to the editor of Successful Saving and slaps together a spec article for Alette. Too many shots of tequila futzes up the addresses, though, and Rebecca's inadvertently insightful analogy about shopping and finance lands her a new job as a columnist working under Mr. Brandon.

Thanks to her editor's prodding, Rebecca's anonymously written column, "The Girl in the Green Scarf", makes an immediate splash. C'mon, though...this is a movie, so you know it's not gonna be that easy. Rebecca's compulsive shopping threatens to carve a path of destruction through her new writing gig, a budding romance, and a lifelong friendship, and when a kinda-sorta celebrity is being hounded by a debt collector for being sixteen grand in the hole and happens to be writing for a magazine about saving money...well, that sort of thing's gonna get out eventually...

Pretty much everyone the world over trashed Confessions of a Shopaholic, but for what it is, I'm not all that ashamed to admit that I dug it. The movie wouldn't have ranked much more than an indifferent shrug if anyone else had leapt into the lead than Isla Fisher, though. Despite stealing every last scene in Wedding Crashers, she's been kind of an underutilized talent in the years since, but Confessions... gives Fisher a chance to strut her stuff. It'd be easy for Rebecca to teeter into being hollow, materialistic, and unlikeable -- especially in this bleak financial climate -- but Fisher is so innocent and unrelentingly adorable that she can pull off that delicate balancing act. There's no malice or sneering behind her compulsion; high-ticket fashion is just Rebecca's way of spackling over her insecurities. From defrosting a credit card lodged in ice like Captain America to trying to swipe hate mail while hiding inside a rack of coats to stumbling with a tray of food at a ritzy ball, Fisher's exaggerated expressions and knack for physical comedy kept me laughing pretty steadily throughout. There's such a childlike innocence to Rebecca that Confessions of a Shopaholic also ekes out a lot more
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sympathy for her than you might think.

Although this...isn't so much the type of movie I'd expect to see backed by a producer like Jerry Bruckheimer, having a name like him onboard makes for a particularly glossy, polished comedy. Confessions of a Shopaholic takes full advantage of its Manhattan backdrop, and it keeps Fisher flanked by a half-battalion of great supporting players. Ed Helms, John Goodman, Fred Armisen, John Lithgow, Joan Cusack, and Kristin Scott Thomas all chime in with small but frequently significant roles, and they generally play it straight as a counterpoint to Rebecca's slapstick. Krysten Ritter's a ridiculous amount of fun in the best friend role, and Hugh Dancy makes for a classic sort of romantic lead. It's a better written part than the stock stuffed-shirt-who-doesn't-realize-what-he's-missing-out-on-in-life routine this would've been in pretty much any other movie. There's that element of it sprinkled around in here too, but Luke Brandon's a better sketched character than just that.

The first hour of Confessions of a Shopaholic is such bubbly, effervescent fun that when it does have to tear through the obligatory break-up-to-make-up/bottoming-out plot points, I...gasp!...still felt invested in the characters and the story up to that point anyway. Director P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding) deftly juggles the broader comedy with the movie's thumping heart and more dramatic moments, and between the siren song of CG-tweaked mannequins and a marvelous leading turn by Isla Fisher, the addiction elements are surprisingly convincing as well. Admittedly, Confessions of a Shopaholic does feel kind of routine and heavy-handed as it draws to a close, and the movie as a whole runs fifteen or twenty minutes longer than it probably ought to. That's okay, though. Lightweight...? Sure, but Confessions of a Shopaholic is just trying to be cute and funny, and...well, that's exactly what it is. Oh well. I liked it. Recommended.


Video
As if you'd really expect anything less for such a cute, glossy comedy, Confessions of a Shopaholic looks terrific in high-def. Such a fashion-centric movie screams out for this sort of bright, eye-poppingly colorful photography, and the scope image is -- for the most part, at least -- crisp and nicely detailed. While most scope movies lean on Super35 photography or slap some mattes on top of digital video, Confessions of a Shopaholic was shot anamorphic. It seems like there's been kind of an anamorphic resurgence over the past year or so, and as a green belt film geek, that's nice to see. Anamorphic photography is often accompanied by a few scattered shots that look less detailed than the rest, and although that's the case here too, it's sparse, not terribly intrusive, and shouldn't be considered a hiccup specific to this Blu-ray disc. A faintly grainy texture lends Confessions of a Shopaholic a warm, naturally filmlike appearance, and the AVC encode has enough headroom to render that sheen of grain properly. I've never been disappointed with one of Disney's day-and-dates on Blu-ray, and Confessions of a Shopaholic keeps that long-running streak breezing along.

After adding in a smattering of high-def featurettes, Confessions of a Shopaholic does spill over into the second layer of this BD-50.

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Audio
Squirreled away in Confessions of a Shopaholic's handbag is a 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This isn't some spastic action flick or anything, so don't waltz in expecting any sort of hyperaggressive sound design, but Confessions...'s lossless track suits the material perfectly. Dialogue is rendered cleanly and clearly, natch, and there's a consistently strong sense of stereo imaging across the front channels. The rears never really stop chattering, reinforcing various snippets of music and splashing on a reasonably convincing sense of atmosphere. Among the color in the surrounds are squawking gulls in Miami, the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, and reverb in a stuffy shareholders' conference. The low-end is pretty healthy thanks to some thumpin' electropop on the soundtrack and the plop-thud-whack of all of the physical comedy. No gripes here.

There are also Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and subtitle streams in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and a couple of other languages that are in symbols I apparently don't know how to decipher. The English subs are captioned for the deaf and hard of hearing, by the way.


Extras
  • Wardrobe
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    by Patricia Field
    (3 min.; HD): The Sex and the City alum briefly chats about fielding the costumes for such a fashion-oriented flick and how the wardrobe helps shape the storytelling.

  • Temple of Shopping (3 min.; HD): The second salvo in this barrage of mini-featurettes shows how the flagship Henri Bendel boutique on 5th Ave. was dolled up with a Midsummer's Night Dream theme.

  • The Green Scarf (2 min.; HD): A half-dozen scarves pared down to one...'sabout all there is in this ninetysomething second clip.

  • New York: Fashion Central (3 min.; HD): A movie like Confessions of a Shopaholic screams out to be filmed in Manhattan, and this featurette touches on why that is, exactly, along with running through the challenges and joys of setting up shop in the Big Apple.

  • Sample Sale Madness (2 min.; HD): Almost done. Promise. This one takes a peek at two hundred women unleashed for a scene that's described as the "Braveheart of shopping".

  • Window Shopping (2 min.; HD): ...and the last of the mini-featurettes shows off the window displays scattered throughout the movie, and visual effects legend John Knoll pops up to chat about how its CG-enhanced mannequins were brought to life.

  • Deleted
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    Scenes
    (2 min.; HD): Three of these extra snippets are pretty short: a scarf-centric waking nightmare, an outta-left-field rooftop kiss, and a swing-and-a-miss pitch for another wardrobe-themed column. By far the longest of the bunch follows Rebecca as she tries to scrounge up a little extra cash with a job on the side at...where else?...an upscale fashion boutique. She can't bring herself to let an actual paying customer stroll out the door with a pair of zebra print pants -- "the jeans that God wears!" -- and...y'know, madcap hilarity follows. It drags on for entirely too long, and it's kind of an echo of the sample sale scene anyway, so this one's better off on the cutting room floor.

  • Bloopers of a Shopaholic (2 min.; SD): The blooper reel on Confessions... breezes through the cast stumbling over designers' names, Rebecca getting ready to doll herself up as "a slutty version of Katharine Hepburn" (eh, close enough), and a big American dance party.

  • Music Videos (9 min.; SD): Rounding out the extras are music videos for "Stuck with Each Other" by Shontelle (featuring Akon), "Accessory" by Jordyn Taylor, and "Takes Time to Love" by Trey Songz.
The usual gaggle of high-def trailers are piled on here too, and a second disc in the set serves up a digital copy of the movie for use on iTunes and Windows Media-powered devices. Also tucked inside the case is a code to redeem $10 in Fashion Cash. Neither the insert nor the website spell out where you can use the card or what you can spend it on, so...yeah.


The Final Word
Sure, I'm not exactly the target demo for a movie like Confessions of a Shopaholic, but that's okay: I dug it anyway. It's an adorable, funnier-than-you'd-think confection of a comedy, and Isla Fisher is terrific as she takes the reins as the lead for the first time. She's consistently been the best thing about every movie she's co-starred in up to this point, and it's her screen presence and marvelous comic timing that really make Confessions... worth keeping an eye out for. Recommended.
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