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shopping life

Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming comedy, “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” is a movie about a young woman whose compulsive shopping habit plunges her into debt and a financial crisis.

Talk about timing.

The movie, which debuts over Valentine’s Day weekend, is opening at a time when consumers are drowning in credit card debt and suffering through what might be the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Based on the bestselling novels by Sophie Kinsella and starring up-and-comer Isla Fisher, “Shopaholic” could be viewed as a parable for present times. Fisher’s fashion-obsessed character, however, eventually digs out from under her misguided ways and learns what’s important in life.

Call it Hollywood make-believe slams into real life. The lag time between when a film is conceived and developed and when it rolls into theaters points up how the selling of movies can be complicated by the turn of current events.

Although it might seem like the worst possible moment to release a movie – even a comedy – about the financial perils of overspending, Disney marketers and “Shopaholic’s” producer believe that the bleak climate could work to the PG-rated film’s advantage.

“The timing for this movie couldn’t be better,” producer Jerry Bruckheimer said. “This is the journey of a young girl who has a problem and she turns her life around. It’s a tale the whole world can learn a lesson from,” added Bruckheimer, who had the project in development for eight years before it was made.

“Shopaholic’s” theme of overindulgence and unmitigated spending comes just as consumers are tapped out on their credit cards and feverishly pinching pennies. Retail spending is in free fall, and shopping malls are virtually empty.

Those are rough realities to square with much that is depicted in the film. A shopping gallery of designer brands such as Prada and Marc Jacobs is prominently featured, and high-end stores like Barneys New York and Henri Bendel have co-starring roles.

The movie’s trailer, depicting Fisher’s character on a shopping rampage, includes a scene in which she fights over a pair of half-priced Gucci boots. “Shopaholic’s” poster shows Fisher weighted down with shopping bags, with the caption: “All she ever wanted was a little credit. …”

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