RT on DVD: Confessions of Shopaholic and Paul Blart

Isla Fisher prances, Kevin James pratfalls; Shatner adds some much-needed dignity

by | August 6, 2009 | Comments


It’s the age old story. Girl likes pretty things. Girl racks up crippling credit debt. Girl gets job on financial magazine.

The greatest tragedy about this film is not that it’s an example of shining mediocrity — or even that it isn’t that funny — it’s that there are some supremely talented people involved… and it still sucks.

Director P.J. Hogan turned the chick flick genre, and Australian cinema, on its head with Muriel’s Wedding. Muriel might have been a nutter but she was a female character with depth and complexity. Even when he dipped his toes into the Hollywood big time with My Best Friend’s Wedding, Hogan created women with some oomph, and a sense of humour and fun. This movie is about as fun as that screeching noise you make when you let the air out of a balloon really, really slowly.

Isla Fisher, bless her, works her butt off to make something of this film. She’s her bubbly, charismatic self, but sadly, all the red-headed charisma in the world is not going to save a clichéd, caricature of a script.

It’s time rom-com fans took a stand and said: ‘We like movies, too… dammit! Give us some decent cinema!”

Consensus: This middling romantic comedy under-utilises a talented cast and delivers muddled messages on materialism and conspicuous consumption.


Kevin James both stars in and co-wrote this film about a mall cop who dreams of one day becoming a New Jersey state trooper. James was likeable in the US sit-com, The King of Queens, and he’s likeable in this.

James’ appeal might explain why this film did so well at the box office. Never mind the thoroughly rotten Tomatometer, audiences flocked to see this 91 minute-long fat joke in droves. And just when you think they’ve milked every fat joke available, they find one more. There is something admirable about that kind of thoroughness and rigour.

Despite its lacklustre performance and non-comedic comedy, there is one thing about this film that shines — they used the Wilhelm scream! The Wilhelm, of course, is the sound effect that has become so famous, and so over-used, that it long ago made the transition from cliché to most excellent in-joke. See if you can spot it…

Consensus: Paul Blart: Mall Cop has some laughs, but its plot is flimsy and lacking in any sustained comic momentum.

Boston Legal: Series Five

The release of this DVD marks the end of a great American series. Created by hitmaker David E. Kelley, this law drama had all of his usual quirks and left-wing intentions.

It also contains one of the most interesting relationships on television — the relationship between Denny Crane (William Shatner) and Alan Shore (James Spader). The friendship between these staunchly heterosexual men is as close to a loyal marriage as can be found on the small-screen.

Boston Legal is wonderfully self-referential, and over the years the characters have made references to the writers’ strike, the show’s changing time slots and even the unrealistic, formulaic style of the series itself. Boston Legal gets so close to jumping the shark in the final episode that one suspects if they could actually have jumped a shark they would have.

The ending of this season brings to a head the years of ridiculousness this series has brought us, but also a lovely representation of the humour and staunch moral positioning around loyalty, freedom and friendship that has made the show so popular. The final season also works to showcase the supporting cast, which includes the glorious Candice Bergen, as well as Christian Clemenson, Rene Auberjonois and Tara Summers, plus a broad selection of guest stars appearing as the oddball client and judges.

Grand Designs: Season Five

Ask most sensible people what their favourite show on TV is and they will rattle off all the HBO greats — until they suddenly remember that one show that makes everyone happy: Grand Designs.

Sure, it’s just another show about people renovating houses that the rest of us can’t afford, but somewhere along the way this gem crept into the heart of cult viewing and good people around the globe cannot get enough. Hosted by the very British, very sexy Kevin McCloud, this is a must-own DVD. Despite running for over ten years they’ve only released one other DVD up until now, and that was for Season Four. I bought that DVD six months ago and have not seen it since, as it has been borrowed by everyone I know.

Season Five contains such fabulous builds as the House Shaped Like A Curvy Seashell in Devon, the Family Home Built out of Finnish Logs in Kent, and the 21st Century Answer to a Roman Villa in Belfast.

I don’t know why this series is so successful. It could be the impossibly ambitious design projects, the car-crash glee we feel as we watch them trying to do it themselves to imminent disaster, or the way Kevin continually needles them about their rising budgets. I think it’s because so many of us are fascinated about the idea of being able to create our own world as we want to live in it and this show illustrates the joys and hazards of that dream.

Also, Kevin McCloud is really, really sexy.