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Confessions of someone who actually watched “Confessions of a Shopaholic”

April 21, 2010

It's not that serious.

A movie called “Confessions of a Shopaholic” could easily be my autobiography. I unfortunately did see some of myself in the main character of the movie, Rebecca Bloomwood. A writer for a gardening magazine she hates, she aspires to work for Alette, a top fashion magazine (hello, Vogue) She spends money like it’s going out of style, even though she’s eyeball-deep in debt and has to use 5 different credit cards to pay for a $120 scarf. Her gig is that she was raised by parents who only bought her ugly, practical clothing while the other little girls got the expensive, cute clothes and made fun of her. So as an adult, she makes up for this slight by buying basically everything she sees and marginally likes. Basically she’s the typical “women be shopping” type.

Rebecca finds out that the crappy gardening magazine she works for is folding, so she needs another job ASAP if she’s going to keep supporting her shopping habit. She gets an interview with the fashion magazine but when she gets there she finds that the position has been filled — by a leggy, sophisticated, well dressed and pulled together blonde who will become her nemesis later in the movie. Sidenote: Patricia Field (of Sex and the City fame) did costume design on this movie, so Rebecca dresses a lot like Carrie, only less high fashion. Alette is published by Dante West (their version of Condè Nast), so the receptionist at the front desk of Alette suggests that she apply for an open position at another magazine published by them, Successful Saving. Of course this is supposed to be funny, because she clearly knows nothing about saving or finance in general. It’s not that funny.

She interviews with the editor of Successful Saving, a hot guy who previously gave her the money she needed to complete a transaction for the aforementioned $120 scarf (she doesn’t have enough credit to buy it, so she runs to a hot dog stand to try and get cash back to get the scarf) and buy his hot dog in peace. She had lied and told him she was buying the scarf for her sick aunt, but then shows up at the interview with said scarf. She pretty much botches the interview from there, but ends up getting the job later on, after a scene in which Rebecca and her roommate, Suze, get drunk and do Rebecca’s bills to figure out how much debt she’s in. In the scene, after she realizes she’s in a hole she can’t get out of, she writes a nasty letter to the Successful Savings editor for not hiring her, and a writing sample to the editor of Alette to show how good she is. Things get wacky when she — guess what — mixes up the letters and sends them to the opposite person! I didn’t see that coming.

Hilarity ensues as she attempts to get the letter back from Alette by hiding in a clothing rack and trying to get the envelope out of the mailroom dude’s cart. She succeeds, and her good fortune continues when the editor of the finance magazine offers her the job based on her writing sample. He wants her to write about finance in a way normal people can understand, which for some reason means she compares everything to investing in quality clothing and accessories. Then starts the suspense and drama as a very persistent and dickish debt collector keeps calling her at work. She can’t have them knowing she’s deep in debt since that would ruin her credibility, so she tells everyone he’s a former bf who is stalking her and pretending to be a debt collector. This storyline is the most unrealistic in a movie full of unrealistic storylines, because the dude starts trying to get to her in person. Being someone who has debt collectors frequently trying to contact me, I know that there is no way that would happen. I mean, they can’t even call you after 8 pm, much less track you down at work. Insert frequent eyerolling at this point.

Rebecca continues to shop. Her best friend Suze is getting married, and Rebecca is a bridesmaid. She gets this really cute bridesmaid dress that she just loves, and she’s excited, and Suze is excited, and it’s great. They part ways and she decides she needs a new dress for her upcoming talk show appearance, so she goes on and buys one. Then she heads off to a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting (she’s been going to these on and off since she lost her job, but clearly they’re not working) with her bridesmaid dress and the new talk show dress in tow. But there’s a new sheriff in town leading the meeting, and she’s taking a hard line. She drags Rebecca and the other shopaholics to a thrift store where she forces Rebecca to give away the dresses. After the meeting she runs back to the store to try and get the dresses back, but they’ll only let her buy one back — naturally we’re at the point in the film where more drama is needed, so she leaves the bridesmaid dress there and takes the talk show dress.

She heads home to Suze, and they’re on the porch talking. A homeless woman walks by WEARING THE BRIDESMAID DRESS. Cut to Suze running upstairs in tears, Rebecca running after her, and their friendship being ruined.

Now of course, Rebecca and Luke, the finance mag editor, end up romantically involved (she actually steals him from the leggy Alette blonde). Rebecca’s column has become a huge hit, everyone is buying Successful Savings, she saved the magazine, blah blah. She’s writing under the name “The Girl in the Green Scarf” because she didn’t want to associate her name with such a drab magazine and the scarf she bought with Luke’s money was green. They go on the Jenny Jones-esque talk show and guess who shows up in the audience? Debt collector guy. He stands up during the audience comments portion of the show and proceeds to air out Rebecca’s dirty laundry, detailing every bogus excuse she gave him for why she couldn’t pay her bill. Everyone laughs at her as her credibility goes down the drain, Luke is pissed that she lied to him so their relationship is pretty much over, and she loses her job. Things are looking down for our dear shopaholic.

While she’s down and out, the editor of Alette comes to her and offers her a job writing about “budget” fashion. But it turns out that “budget” means what you can afford to charge on your credit card. There’s a Devil Wears Prada-esque scene here where she decides to turn the position down because she now suddenly has integrity and doesn’t want to promote credit card use any more. She’s rallied to the occasion and decided she’s going to be debt-free. So she organizes a “sample sale” consisting of almost her entire wardrobe in order to raise the money to pay off her $10,000+ debt. While this is germinating, Luke’s job is being evaluated by Dante West’s chairman (played by John Lithgow, I guess he needed work). He ends up getting his own magazine for his sassy defense of Rebecca’s contribution to the magazine despite her deception. Because that’s usually how things work when you F up. Anyway, Rebecca has sent Luke an invitation to the sample sale, you know, to prove that she’s reformed. We’re led to believe he doesn’t give a crap. At the sample sale, after everything else is sold, they auction off some choice items. One of the items is the famous green scarf. Two women battle it out to outbid the other and Rebecca makes the winner promise to “not wear it with yellow”. So Rebecca’s sample sale is a huge success, she makes — gasp! — just enough to pay off her debt. She shows up at the debt collector’s office with maybe 100 jars of pennies in payoff, her big middle finger to him and the scene that’s supposed to make us cheer and feel all warm inside because he got his. I’m ready for bed at this point. And it’s 5 p.m.

Can you guess what happens next? Yes, she finds the bridesmaid dress and shows up at Suze’s wedding in it. Cue tearful making up scene. And yes, she makes up with Luke, and guess who the bidders for the green scarf were? They were both him by proxy. So she ends up getting to keep her beloved scarf after all. I do get a warm feeling inside, but I realize it’s just heartburn.

A montage shows us that Luke has started his magazine and Rebecca is doing a column called, yes, “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. Roll credits. Remove from Instant Queue.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. evmaroon permalink
    April 21, 2010 4:30 pm

    Capitalism sucks. I think I saw that movie at some point in this lifetime. Movies about a person in debt always get me too stressed out, and then I have to stop the movie or change the channel. This doesn’t work so well when I’m at my local cinema.

  2. April 21, 2010 5:01 pm

    I’m just glad I didn’t see this in the theater!

  3. araymondjohnson permalink
    April 21, 2010 5:03 pm

    thank you for this recap — it was the scene when she chose to give up the bridesmaid dress at the thrift store that made my anxiety shoot up and i had to turn the tv off. however, i was mildly curious to know how they would neatly wind it up, and this was way better reading than watching!

  4. April 21, 2010 6:16 pm

    I was another person who had to turn off this movie. It’s such a privileged trope to believe the bill collector devotes his time or resources to chasing down every non paying Friend-o like Javier in No Country for Old Men. I always wondered why upper middle class white folks were scared to death of bill collectors! Now I know. This is what they think they do!

    Ha. they call you twice, probably send some “strongly” worded letters and eventually sell off your debt to someone else where the cycle continues until eventually the debt falls off your credit report or you pay it.

  5. April 22, 2010 9:04 am

    I enjoyed this movie, but I was drunk, so…

    That said, I’m an admin, and one of the other employees at my work used to get TONS of phone calls from debt collectors at the office. Since I’m the one who answers the phone, I got to be the one to inform them that it’s against the law to make debt collection calls to a person’s place of work.

  6. Hsofia permalink
    April 22, 2010 3:05 pm

    Lol yeah this movie was ridiculous, but goddamn it that Hugh Dancy is too adorable! And I don’t usually that keen on the skinny necked types. Isla Fisher was also adorable, but I cringed a LOT when she would At least she really was a shopaholic.

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