Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Confessions of a Shopaholic

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild language and thematic elements
Profanity:Some mild language
Nudity/Sex:Kisses, joke about prostitution
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, including drinking to deal with stress
Violence/Scariness:Tense confrontations
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:February 13, 2009
DVD Release Date:June 23, 2009
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some mild language and thematic elements
Profanity: Some mild language
Nudity/Sex: Kisses, joke about prostitution
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking, including drinking to deal with stress
Violence/Scariness: Tense confrontations
Diversity Issues: None
Movie Release Date: February 13, 2009
DVD Release Date: June 23, 2009

Even the endlessly talented and infinitely adorable Isla Fisher cannot overcome the script problems in this unfrothy romantic comedy about a writer who just can’t stop shopping. As hard as they try to make her irresistable, the character she plays is careless, thoughtless, and untrustworthy. And yet, everyone in the movie seems to be utterly won over by her, making the disconnect between the reactions of the audience and the reactions of the characters more and more jarring.

Fisher plays Rebecca, who was forever blighted by her parents’ penny-pinching. She wanted sparkly and colorful but her mother always bought brown and sensible. So she has grown up into a woman who cannot resist that most magical of siren’s refrains: “SALE.” They are not kidding about the “aholic” part of the title. Like any addict, she is in denial about the way in which her addiction has affected her life and the lives of those around her. She mooches off of her best friend and roommate (a delightful Krysten Ritter as Suze) and constantly lies to everyone, including herself. She goes to great lengths to avoid those nasty people who keep calling her because, oh yes, she does not pay her bills. It is supposed to be charming and funny that racing to the interview for what she says is the job of her dreams she is waylaid by a $120 green scarf, which she pays for with a combination of cash, several credit cards, and what amounts to attempted check-kiting that turns into a straight-on con, based on a gabbled story about a sick aunt. And who turns out to be on the other side of the desk in the interview? Yes, the con-ee himself, the handsome editor (Hugh Dancy in another Prince Charming role as Luke). An all-star supporting cast includes Kristen Scott Thomas as an imperious fashion editor and Julie Hagarty channeling Miss Jane from “The Beverly Hillbillies” as Luke’s assistant.


It is always a mistake for a movie to be more in love with its heroine than the audience is. A little romantic fantasy is welcome but here it reaches absurd levels as the most selfish and irresponsible behavior by Rebbecca produces coos of ecstasy from everyone. She instantly becomes an international sensation with a frivolous article using shoes as a metaphor for personal finance. And preposterously, when she finally begins to accept some responsibility for the mess she has made, the movie wants us to be on her side when she undercuts her inexcusably overdue payment with a silly prank. Fisher should have shopped around for a better script.

  • Rosanna Landis

    My 11 year old daughter really wants to see this, and as much as I love a mother/daughter “chick flick” night at the movies I’ve been resisting, and this review convinced me that I’m right. The last thing my daughter needs given her own predilection for material beauty is this movie. (We called her Imelda when she was three, whenever anyone asked her what she wanted for a gift the answer was “More shoes.” If some of the issues were handled well in the movie then I’d probably use it as a springboard for discussion, but it seems like this is not the movie for that. I particularly don’t want her to see a movie that suggests that penny-pinching parents are not a good thing :)
    We actually did see “Devil Wears Prada” and had conversations about that one. Any other recommendations?

  • Alicia

    Sounds like I will pass on this one, Nell. I think it is interesting that this movie is opening on Valentine’s Day. It says a lot about our culture that Hollywood so readily makes the connection between shopping and romance. Good grief!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much Rosanna. It is always wonderful to hear from a parent who makes thoughtful choices. And I, too had a daughter nicknamed “Imelda” who adored clothes — and who is now grown up, very sensible, and a professional costume designer!
    I might suggest “13 Going on 30,” not specifically about the issue of materialism and commercial manipulation but it is a theme in the film.

  • Helga

    hey moms,
    i think you guys are a little too overprotective about your children. This is a fine movie, I don’t know what your talking about. Its about a young woman who is a little ‘obsessed’ with materialistic items, with a little romance in it. Almost like Cinderella. What would you rate that? A ‘F’?
    seriously, get a grip, your kids are getting older. I think the ages of 10 and up should be able to watch this.

  • Nell Minow

    This careless and thoughtless girl has more in common with the step-sisters than she does with the virtuous Cinderella, Helga. But I appreciate your sharing your thoughts.

  • Shannon

    Both my daughters (17 and 12) asked me to go with them to see this movie. I was hesitant because of lukewarm to chilly reviews but agreed to go. We had a wonderful time. All three of us laughed many, many times throughout the movie. It’s a lighthearted, zany movie. We did not go on opening weekend and instead viewed it one week later. I was surprised at how many others were in the theater. The main character was delightful. Is it a top-of-the-line, Oscar contending movie? No – not at all. But it was a perfect movie to laugh a bit at our society and ourselves. We need more zany, clean movies. The girls and I are still laughing about the line, “You speak Prada!”

  • Nell Minow

    I loved your comment, Shannon! Thanks so much. I am always delighted to hear from someone who saw more in a movie than I did. We can agree that Isla Fisher is a delightful and very talented performer and I, too, loved the look on her face when she said, “You speak Prada!” I’m so glad you and your daughters enjoyed the movie.

  • Your Name

    Movie Mom, I appreciate your wonderful reviews and I always consult this site if im not sure about a movie. But why haven’t you reviewed recent horror films such as Saw IV, Friday the 13th, and The Unborn? I understand if you would not feel comfortable seeing these types of movies, but gave reviews for past movies such as the previous Saw films. The only reason I am asking is because these are some of the movies that my 14 year old has asked to see recently, and Im not sure whether or not I want her to. Thank You! And if you did happen to see these or you posted a review that didn’t see, please let me know!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much! Your kind words mean the world to me.
    I generally don’t go to hard-core slasher films. I can’t do them justice. But I will say that no horror film with an R rating is suitable for a 14-year-old. The “Saw” movies are about the most horrific and graphic torture imaginable and the “Friday the 13th” movies are about a serial killer who massacres teenagers. Any one in the series is as bad as any other when it comes to the amount and grisliness of the violence.

  • Lisa

    Hi Movie Mom! I listen to you on my local (San Diego) radio station morning show (when I can catch you while taking my preschooler to school) but this is my first time to your site… I often like what you have to say; thanks for good reviews and info about families in there too!
    My husband took me to this movie opening weekend because I love the book series by Sophie Kinsella. Of course, a movie cannot as fully flesh out a character as a book, but I felt there was a lot cut out of this movie. The books had more redeeming qualities to Rebecca. Once I stopped my mind from making comparisons – about 1/2 way through – I thought it was a light, enjoyable romp, with many funny moments. However, I’m 40 years old, and I could see your point for much younger viewers. (My daughter’s only 1 so I am not there yet!) I think teens would get that Rebecca has (improbable) problems & issues. I recommend reading any of the Shopaholic books for high school & up. Anyway, thanks for all you do!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Lisa! I am so glad you listen to my beloved Jeff and Jer and I welcome you to the site. I really enjoyed your comments and hope you will visit often and let me know what you think of the movies you see.

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