June 26, 2009 in Features

Oblivious ‘Shopaholic’ begins, ends with Fisher

Washington Post
 
Disney photo

Isla Fisher, second from right, stars as Rebecca Bloomwood in “Confessions of a Shopaholic.” Disney
(Full-size photo)

Coming up

Among upcoming DVD releases (schedule subject to change):

Tuesday: “Dark Streets,” “The Education of Charlie Banks,” “12 Rounds,” “Two Lovers”

July 7: “The Unborn”

July 14: “The Edge of Love,” “The Haunting in Connecticut,” “12”

July 21: “Ballerina,” “Carmen & Geoffrey,” “Coraline,” “Watchmen: Director’s Cut”

“Confessions of a Shopaholic”

Is Rebecca Bloomwood the embodiment of irresponsible consumership? Absolutely, which makes the timing of the film either genius or fatal, but two things weigh in its favor: One is Isla Fisher. The other is that the film is oblivious to its own gravitas.

Rebecca is the Lucy Ricardo of profligate spending. She desperately wants to work for the fashion rag, Alette magazine, run by the semi-satanic Alette Naylor (Kristin Scott Thomas). An opening has arisen at a sister mag, a personal- finance journal edited by the dashing and secretly wealthy Luke Brandon (Hugh Dancy), and Rebecca lands the job.

The film touches all the rom-com bases: the romance between Luke and Rebecca; Rebecca’s friendship with her roommate Suze (the wonderful Krysten Ritter). And lots of comedy filler, including the digressions involving Rebecca’s parents (Joan Cusack and John Goodman). And 12-step shopaholic meetings.

Rebecca may owe everybody for everything, but Fisher definitely owns the movie. (1:52; PG for vulgarity and adult themes.)

“The Pink Panther 2”

Maybe one could expect a little bit more from a film that co-stars Jeremy Irons, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina and Lily Tomlin. Each of those blue-chip performers is criminally wasted in this sequel to the 2006 update of the old Peter Sellers comedies, which plays like a series of disconnected skits in a cut-rate “Saturday Night Live.”

Even Steve Martin’s talents as a physical comedian are underused, except for a wonderful set piece early in the film where his character, Jacques Clouseau, gets to juggle a cascade of bottles as they fall from a teetering wine rack.

Sure, it’s dumb humor. But it’s also, at times, mean. Clouseau calls one of his fellow detectives, a Japanese computer whiz played by Yuki Matsuzaki, “my little yellow friend.”

I know, we’re not meant to laugh at the victim, but at Clouseau’s bigotry, which is supposed to be just another example of his comic ineptitude. My only question is this: In the context of these by-the-book pratfalls, is it funny enough? (1:30; PG for slapstick violence and brief suggestive humor.)

“Waltz With Bashir”

Directed by Ari Folman, this film tells the story of the September 1982 massacres of Palestinians at Sabra and Shatila. Twenty years after, Folman has blocked the war from his memory. Only when his friend Boaz tells him about a recurring dream does Folman start to ask himself questions.

Was he at Sabra and Shatila? Why can’t he remember? What is meant by the memories he does have? And are they his?

Craftily, the details of Sabra and Shatila unfold, via interviews Folman does with his old army buddies – who are rendered, like Folman, animated, via the process known as rotoscoping, which transforms photographic footage into cartoon and reduces us to something basic and primal.

This is a thinking person’s horror movie, about real horror and horrifying echoes, and the dark that coils around Sabra and Shatila. And around the hearts of men.

DVD extras: commentary with director Ari Folman; featurettes. (1:30; rated R for disturbing images of atrocities, strong violence, brief nudity and a scene of graphic sexual content.)

Also available: “Backwoods,” “Bob Funk,” “Legends of the Bog,” “Table for Three,” “Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection,” “Zombie High,” “The Pianist” (Blu-ray).

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