Maybe I'm defining the term "faint praise" by saying that Confessions of a Shopaholic is marginally better than this young year's other chick flicks (Bride Wars, New in Town and He's Just Not That Into You). But it's a treat having world-class charmer Isla Fisher ease us through the film version of Sophie Kinsella's bestseller about — what else? — shopping. Fisher's Rebecca Bloomwood is the perfect fashion junkie for the New Depression. She's Legally Broke. There's even a debt collector on her tail. Those shopaholics from Sex and the City have money to burn. Not Becky. She's got nearly $20,000 in credit-card bills. She so wants to work at Alette, the fashion mag of her dreams, run with an iron hand and an outrageous French accent by Kristin Scott Thomas. But the only job Becky can fake her way into is at Successful Saving. Yikes! It's Becky's version of No Exit. Sadly, Jean-Paul Sartre did not do the screenplay for Shopaholic. That task fell to three writers who felt no obligation except to shake their sillies out.
Look, it's not all bad. Director P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend's Wedding) knows his way around this kind of farce. So does Fisher, an Aussie with a nifty American accent and a knack for building a frisky romance with Becky's dreamy (and rich) Brit editor (Hugh Dancy, playing it all cute and pensive). Better yet, Fisher makes us believe that Becky can write a successful column about frugality while fighting the urge to shop-shop-shop. Hey, who better? In pushing the proposition that a shopaholic may be the best person to lead her fellow junkies to a safe zone in a squeezed economy, the movie may actually touch a chord. Confessions is no more than a painless time-waster. But the beguiling Fisher is well worth the investment.