Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) *
I have written here before that I am no fit judge of what are termed 'romcoms' (when they are entirely light and fluffy) or 'chick flicks' (when they also have a serious bit where the characters resolve something, cry and then hug each other).
This is not, I rush to clarify, for any reason so crass as 'because I'm a man'. The so-called 'women's pictures' - the 1930s and 40s genre from which these films are, I suppose, descended - are by and large a source of endless satisfaction to me, and on that territory I do feel myself able to wander at will without native guide to show me the safest route. But the problem with these things is not that I do not always enjoy them, but that I have no mechanism whatever for sorting them out, and spotting which ones will and won't impress most people relative to the others.
For instance, according to Leonard Maltin and the IMDB, The Notebook and P.S. I Love You are good examples of the form, with across-the-board appeal, whereas to me they were like watching a bullfight.
But this, on the other hand, is by all accounts an inferior sample of the breed, that deserved and apparently received a rough ride at the world's box offices. That's why I'm not a Hollywood executive.
It is, of course, totally and unreservedly inconsequential. But it is also, I thought at least, pretty funny, very likeable, sweet and entirely painless. Nobody swears in it. Isla Fisher is extremely good, predictably easy on the old oculars but also winning extra points here for a surprising capacity (and willingness) for undignified physical comedy as well as snappy dialogue. Generous laughs in our house when she tried to hide in a clothes rail, and attempted to intercept a phone call by propelling herself across a boardroom table in the middle of a meeting.
I've no idea how to go any deeper than that into it: I suppose I need to read the film reviews in Marie Claire more often. It probably has some kind of message to impart about consumerism, and it probably does so insincerely. This may or may not be of concern to some, as may the merits or otherwise of the male lead. To me, male leads in romantic comedies are a bit like children in restaurants: you don't really notice them unless they're annoying you. A few hours after watching this chap doing the usual sorts of things male leads in romantic comedies do, I wouldn't stake big money on being able to pick him out of a line-up. But he certainly didn't annoy me, so more points there.
In all, I would have said this film was no great shakes in the wider scheme of things, but a pleasant night in, and virtually impossible to actually dislike. Still, what do I know?