CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC

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Overall Impression – A lighthearted, goofy (and I’ll admit, fun) comedy about debt relief – Hollywood style.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s your main character? – Rebecca Bloomwood.

What’s she trying to accomplish? – Professional: pay off her credit card debt. Personal: overcome her shopping addiction. Private: find the things in life that have real value.

Who’s trying to stop her? – Rebecca is her own greatest enemy, but there are plenty of lesser antagonists along the way.

What happens if she fails? – Rebecca will lose her best friend, the man of her dreams, the perfect job, her home… in other words, everything that really matters.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan – Throughout Rebecca’s childhood, her mom refused to shell out for designer clothes, making her the odd one out amongst her friends.

Wanderer – When Rebecca realizes her crazy spending has landed her in debt, she’s forced to admit that she’s a shopaholic. Rebecca attempts to put her vice to practical use by going for a dream job at a fashion magazine, but gets sidetracked by the perfect green scarf and misses her interview. Realizing her only option is to wing a job at a finance magazine (owned by the same company) and work her way up, Rebecca interviews with soon-to-be love interest Luke Brandon. To her joy/dismay, he gives her a shot – to write an article about staying out of debt! Rebecca knows zip about finance, but makes a daunting topic accessible to herself (and millions of new readers) by writing in shop-talk.

Warrior – Enjoying overnight success and her first decent paycheck, Rebecca gets more involved with the magazine, and with Luke. But complications are aplenty. Not only must she keep up her façade as a ‘money-smart guru’, but she has to avoid the evil debt collector, control her urges to spend and compete with a model for Luke’s affections. Rebecca joins a “shopaholics anonymous” group, but it’s all in vain as, inevitably, everything blows up in her face: Rebecca loses her love interest, her best friend, and is revealed as a fraud on national television.

MartyrA solution presents itself when the head of the fashion magazine offers Rebecca her dream job, wanting her to manipulate her devoted readers into buying designer products. Rebecca sticks to her morals and refuses, deciding to remove her debt by selling all of her clothes, including her coveted green scarf. After this display of character, Rebecca wins back Luke, her friend, and finally pays off her debt.

AND, IN THE END…

While I enjoyed the movie (this being written by someone whose eyes glaze over on the topic of fashion) there were elements that niggled me.

The ORPHAN section felt weak, and failed to get me rooting for Rebecca. She never suffered any undeserved misfortune… not really.  It’s more like she was jealous of spoiled kids’ undeserved fortune. I’ve been in the same position as kid-Rebecca (replace Prada bags with SNES games), and it didn’t feel big enough a story point to warrant support for an adult who seemed no wiser than when she was 6.  All I could think was “get over it.”

There’s some talk going on about whether CONFESSIONS came out at a bad time, given the current economic crisis.  Since Rebecca’s problem is wasting money on luxury products,  I’m sure this amplified my lack of sympathy, but I suspect I would’ve felt the same way even if we were in more prosperous times.

That being said, it didn’t matter in the end –  Isla Fisher was too likable! Throw in John Goodman, Joan Cusack and plenty of physical comedy, and the movie is bound to please some people even if it was released at an unfortunate time.

— Dan Pilditch

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2 Responses to “CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC”

  1. ds March 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    Nice review, but I don’t see how the activity described in the Warrior section counts as “warrior” activity. It sounds like she’s mostly responding to complications. I picture warrior-time as being more pro-active.

    It’s interesting to see a movie like this analyzed so I’d be curious to hear what you think.

    • danpilditch March 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm #

      Howdy,

      The Warrior section tends to begin when the hero/heroine has all the tools/allies/knowledge they think they need to achieve their “Professional”, “Personal” and “Private” goals. So, after moving through the Wanderer section, Rebecca has achieved the following:

      — Professional goal: Rebecca has figured out that she can pay off her debt by rising higher in the magazine’s ranks.

      — Personal goal: she understands that she has a shopping addiction.

      — Private goal: she has met her new boss, Luke, whom she likes.

      So it’s in the Warrior that Rebecca actively fights to achieve these goals.

      Professional: Rebecca accompanies Luke to a business conference, capitalizes on her identity as a business writer and generally gets more involved with the biz.

      Private: she spends more time with Luke in a personal manner: going with him to the conference, dancing the Tango, competing with the model, etc. (Because her Professional and Private goals both effectively revolve around Luke, they often operated in tandem.)

      Personal: she attends a ‘shopaholics anonymous’ group, asks her friend for help, and generally tries to keep the urges in check.

      I found that her Personal goal also provided many of the complications for the Professional and Private goals. Indeed, all three are often related and dependent on one another.

      It’s true that Rebecca was reacting to complications, but most of them arose as a result of her proactively pursuing her goals.

      Hoped that helped clear things up a bit, and cheers for your question!

      Dan.

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