Confessions of a Shopaholic (2008)

Rated: PG for some mild language and thematic elements.
Length: 104 minutes
Grade: D+B-BD=C-
Budget: Possibly $70 million
Box Office: $111 million (44 U.S., 57 Intl., 10 DVD)

Written by: Tim Firth (G-Force, Calendar Girls, and Blackball), Kayla Alpert (TV only), and Tracey Jackson (her first effort) based on the books by Sophie Kinsella.
Directed by: PJ Hogan (Dark Shadows, Peter Pan, and My Best Friend’s Wedding)
Starring: Isla Fisher, Hugh Dancy, Krysten Ritter, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

A young girl who wants to write for a fashion magazine winds up writing articles on financial common sense for a finance magazine in spite of living a secret life as a financial fool addicted to shopping.

Entertainment Value: D+
Flakey, implausible, and not particularly funny. I like Isla Fisher, and Joan Cusack used to be my gold standard for movies that would be entertaining, but I don’t know what’s happened lately. I mostly found myself wishing this ridiculous movie would be over. The plot was beyond absurd, especially with this credit collection guy who keeps hounding her. And everyone in the movie just seems implausibly foolish. I guess I was also bothered by a movie that seemed to want to help girls not be like this wound up being so much fun that I worry it has no effect at all.

Superficial Content: B-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity B, Violence A-, Language B-, Illegality BOkay, one major issue here is the prominence of lying, which is a constant throughout the movie. Also, although I think the movie is actually properly rated PG, I was very disappointed by the inclusion of several expressions that just didn’t need to be in there. Phrases like where to stick something and the B-word. Things which might even pass on network television, but seemed so unnecessary in this movie. Also, there are several scenes with alcohol and some drunkenness. PG is right, although I really disliked the language I would say maybe PG-10 if only for drunkenness and language. Why didn’t they shoot for G or at least go PG without any language issues?

Significant Content: B
Credit cards are fun in the beginning but dreadful in the fine print. Shopping does make you happy, but only for a while. Lying only pays off for awhile. Friendship is about honesty and being there for someone. Debt collectors are scoundrels. Fashion magazines cultivate unhealthy desire for things you can’t afford.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
Like, it was so totally superficial. Like, I just couldn’t take any of it seriously. Like, seriously, what’s a girl to do? And besides, it’s not like she killed anyone or anything. I know, right? So, despite my enthusiasm for what I think the main message here was, the presentation of it actually undermined its impact in my opinion. And I hope I’m not ruining anything here, but precisely because everything works itself out in the end, what lesson is really learned?

Discussion Questions:
~Rebecca says in the beginning, “A man will never treat you as well as a store. You can’t return him if you’re dissatisfied, and he always smells good.” What do you think of this comparison? Do you think some women commit a sort of adultery against their husbands with shopping? Is there an emotional compulsion to shopping? Are fashion magazines like pornography? Are retail stores strip clubs?
~Does Rebecca learn the truth in the end? How do you know? Would you describe her as showing repentance?
~What do you think this movie is trying to say about fashion and shopping by having one of the greatest advocates of their world lying to people anytime she feels the need to get something she wants?
~Do you think this movie does an adequate job of deterring women from investing too much of themselves in shopping? How about warning them of the dangers of credit cards? Do you think women who have credit problems are inspired to change by this movie or reassured by the lighthearted manner of it? What about young girls who don’t yet have debt problems who see this?
~Do you think Rebecca suffers the full consequences of her choices in this movie?
~Given how she and other shopaholics react to sales, do you think it was ethically excellent of her to pay off her own debts by selling all of her possessions to other people at irresistible prices? If someone tries to declutter by having a garage sale, is that hypocritical?
~Are people who try to collect on bad debts immoral for using aggressive tactics or are they put in this position because of the delinquents who don’t pay their debts?
Is it immoral to live on debt?
~The Bible has abundant warnings about the dangers of money and loving money. Would you say Rebecca has an idolatry problem? What advice would you give her as a Christian?

Overall Grade: C-
I wasn’t very entertained, and I have serious doubts about the value of this movie, but maybe by discussing some of the issues afterward, good could come of watching it.

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