Low Interest at THE INTERNATIONAL, SHOP Elsewhere for a Good Movie

Valentine’s Day was this weekend so I wanted to see something romantic. But, not being a very girly girl, I also wanted to balance out my moviegoing experience with something more muscular with actions and thrills. So I saw The International first, then Confessions of a Shopaholic. Turns out they both had the same theme—bankers/debt collectors are evil—and neither gave me a very good return on my money.


I didn’t know much about The International‘s plot but was attracted by headliners Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, as well as director Tom Tykwer. Tykwer directed Run, Lola, Run, the terrifically kinetic German thriller starring Franka Potente that was nonstop awesomeness. Characters in International move more slowly and with less energy, which is okay, except for the parts when they’re boring.

2009_the_international_021The bad guys are executives at a powerful, international bank who are providing arms to small countries in conflict. They also assassinate people. I can’t say that bankers—these bankers, anyway—are the most compelling villains but considering the economic mess we’re in, they make relevant bad guys. Owen plays an Interpol agent trying to stop them and Watts is a New York City ADA working with him. Both turn in adequate performances; it isn’t the best work for either. If you’ve ever seen a thriller, any thriller, you can predict almost everything that happens in this movie, but there is a jaw-droppingly spectacular shootout in the Guggenheim that’s gutsy, original and worth seeing.

CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLICShopaholic is a much bouncier and more colorful affair than International but the creditors in this movie—one in particular named Derek Smeath—aren’t very friendly, either. Our heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), is the titular girl who’s addicted to designer labels despite her mountain of debt. Ironically (and quite implausibly, but that’s another matter), she becomes famous as a financial advice columnist. Smeath is the relentless debt collector who’s out to get literal payback from Rebecca and expose her hypocrisy.

The movie, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (who might have been more at home producing International), is based on the first two books in the popular Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Becky is British in the books and I’ve always seen/heard her that way in my head so her being American in the film took some getting used to. Isla Fisher is Australian and probably could’ve done a very convincing British accent. Regardless, she is like a platinum card with no limit on her comedy potential. She dives into her role (sometimes literally) with gusto, totally unconcerned about whether she’d muss up her hair or fancy wardrobe (put together by the inimitable Patricia Field from Sex and the City fame).

2009_confessions_of_a_shopaholic_0101But despite Fisher’s winning, energetic performance, she seems to be running in place because the movie is a pastiche of scenes that don’t add up to one cohesive plot. It’s like a big, pretty package that contains mostly styrofoam peanuts on the inside. Hugh Dancy, whom I really, really like, plays love-interest Luke capably enough (with British accent intact!) but he looks too young to be editor of a magazine (he owns a PR firm in the books) and there’s not much chemistry between him and Fisher. They’re two talented actors thrown together and told to act cute but there’s no real heat.

2009_confessions_of_a_shopaholic_011The supporting cast is overstuffed with accomplished actors like Kristin Scott Thomas, John Lithgow, John Goodman, Joan Cusack, and Wendie Malick, who aren’t given much to do. Lynn Redgrave practically does extra work in a cameo that surely won’t do anything to improve her credit(s). Also, it was disconcerting to see 46-year-old Cusack play 33-year-old Fisher’s mom.

I know times are tough right now but I had no problem watching Becky go shopping and dressed in pretty clothes. Fantasy is more fun than a movie about the economic crisis. But this flick is like a purchase you instantly regret as soon as you get home. My advice? Wait ’til it goes on sale as a DVD.

Ratings—The International: Okay. Confessions: Okay.



  • Reply
    February 16, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you, PCN 🙂 I’ll wait for them both on DVD!

    I’m sure Isla’s outfits are amazing, but for some reason I keep thinking she’s wearing her kitchen gloves in the first pic. It probably looks entirely gorgeous in motion.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2009 at 12:38 am


      I never looked at her gloves closely but now that you mentioned it, I think they look like the yellow rubber ones you wear when you’re scrubbing the tub!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Seen ’em both, but didn’t make the obvious connections between them. It was a compromise, but I have no problem saying that I WAS DRAGGED KICKING AND SCREAMING to Confessions of a Shopaholic. Afterwards, I couldn’t run out of there fast enough. I had high hopes for The International, but it just didn’t deliver.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I just don’t understand how the director of Confessions of A Shopaholic got the job. I think I viewed the film with an open mind, but I was scratching my head after every scene. None of them made sense. It seems like they were badly edited together.

  • Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 11:10 am

    The most interesting moment for me during The International did not happen on screen. It was when the idiot in the back of me decided he would take calls on his cellphone—twice! Dang, I should have complained, maybe I could have gotten my money back.

    The best thing about The International was that incredible shootout at the Guggenheim!

  • Reply
    February 17, 2009 at 11:48 am


    Why do people take phone calls in a movie theater?! That is so rude! I would’ve complained. At the theater where I go, if you complain to an usher, they’ll come in, with security if necessary, and remove the perp.

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