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'Confessions of a Shopaholic' not limited to female audiences

Before I left to see the preview of “Confessions of a Shopaholic” my older daughter warned me that I might not understand it because I’m a man, adding that she knows about shopping and I could ask her about that activity afterward.

While main character Rebecca Bloomwood (played by Isla Fisher) relishes shopping at apparel stores, men make future plans at the home improvement stores they frequent, so it’s not that hard for me to (figuratively) put myself in one of Rebecca’s hundreds of pairs of shoes.

Since “Shopaholic” is actually about self-restraint and credibility rather than about shopping, I was able to understand it.

Eventually my home improvement plans include a second story on the house, converting the crawl space to a basement, a sprinkler system in the backyard and a circular driveway in the front yard. Regretfully, I’m several hundred thousand dollars short of implementing those goals.

The plans include paying for those improvements in cash, if not on credit cards to be paid off within a month or so, and I haven’t sought home equity loans, second mortgages, or other debt mechanisms.

Rebecca Bloomwood begins the movie with no such self-restraint. She grows up admiring clothes and in awe of women who use magic cards rather than money. Eventually she ends up with 12 credit cards and reaches the limit on all of them.

Rebecca’s ability to pay off her credit card debts was precarious enough when she was working, but when the magazine for which she is writing folds, her ability to make even the minimum payments becomes impossible.

She learns about an opening with a fashion magazine, but that publication hired another writer. She is advised, however, that the publishing company promotes from within and that a financial magazine has an opening.

Successful Savings is a magazine for working or unemployed Americans, not for financial managers or professional investors. Rebecca’s strongest financial skill is avoiding the municipal debt collector.

She writes letters to turn down the Successful Savings offer and to impress the fashion magazine editor with a flowing analogy. The letters end up in the wrong envelopes and Successful Savings editor Luke Brandon is impressed by her comparison.

Anyone who is aware of how much print journalists are paid could understand how someone who writes financial advice can be in debt personally. But in a field where credibility is essential, Rebecca makes up stories about the visits from the debt collector and her personal spending activities.

She doesn’t write the articles under her own name but rather makes an icon out of the green scarf she wore to the interview.

The magazine articles become extremely popular. But eventually Rebecca’s lack of self-restraint and her lack of honesty lead her to hit rock bottom (which in the case of my basement needs to be literal, since a multi-level basement is more aptly a cave or a dungeon).

The creativity which has saved her in the past becomes an even greater necessity, but so does self-restraint.

The theme of hiding shortcomings has been the theme of many previous movies, and the scene with the Nokia representative to whom Rebecca was introduced after Luke believed her lie about being fluent in Finnish is reminiscent of the embassy scene in the Peter Sellers movie “Being There.”

Such similar themes keep “Shopaholic” from standing out. But the movie still contains some humorous scenes as well as some suspense about how Rebecca will be able to keep up her ruse.

Extensive knowledge of fashion designers or terms is not necessary to understand or enjoy the movie. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is more about self-restraint and credibility than shopping and fashion. It’s okay – but not great – as a comedy, but men can still understand it.

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