BOXOFFICE was able to catch up with director P.J. Hogan to discuss his latest film, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Male 'Shopaholic'

on February 04, 2009 by Amy Nicholson
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Do you shop?

When I read the books ( Confessions of a Shopaholic is based on a series of books by Sophie Kinsella), the one thing that I didn’t get was shopping because I’m not a big shopper. But you know, all men think they aren’t big shoppers because a lot of us don’t spend money on clothes, or shoes or makeup – we just don’t. But what we will spend money on – at least me – is gadgets, books, DVDs. For some reason, I don’t consider that shopping. I don’t know why. But once with my wife, we worked out what we spend in a month and our tally revealed that I had spent more on gadgets and books than she had spent on clothes.

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It’s interesting that you say that because there are parts in the film where it feels like you could sub in any destructive habit – alcoholism, or gambling addiction – there’s a universality to it.

I identified with Rebecca Bloomwood because in the past, I’ve gotten in trouble with credit cards. Particularly when I was young, I got into a big fix with credit cards. Everybody has something that they do to cheer themselves up. For some people, it’s buying something that they can’t afford. It just makes them feel good. For other people, it’s eating. A late night, great big bar of chocolate. For other people, it’s a drink. If you can’t stop and you find yourself doing it every day, you might want to take note.

Like Muriel’s Wedding (Hogan's 1994 film, which starred Toni Collette), this film is about a woman who’s so pathologically obsessed with one thing, it starts to pull down the other aspects of her life. As a comedy director, how do you balance comedy with misery?

The best comedy, in my opinion, has its roots in pain. It makes the comedy more real. That’s what drew me to this, I thought, 'Rebecca Bloomwood has a real problem, but I’m laughing out loud.’ To me, that’s life. Like everybody, I’ve had some really tough moments, but those tough moments have also been some of the funniest moments. Sometimes things are so bad, what else can you do but laugh?

From when the book was written, to production, to post-production, to releasing the film, the economic climate has changed so much – what is your strategy for dealing with that?

The film has become more relevant – not less – because it was never really about shopping. It was about other things, and those things have become extremely pertinent.

I think the genius of Sophie Kinsella’s books is that she was tapping into something in the zeitgeist that was always there – that pathological consumerism. We realize now that we’ve been a nation of shopaholics. We now all look like the character in the poster: a deer in the headlights with shopping bags in our hands wondering, ‘How the heck did this happen?’ Sadly, it’s all too relevant now.

There’s that line where John Goodman says---

‘Your mother and I think that if America can be a billion dollars in debt and still survive, then so can you.’ That’s straight from the book and it was a very important line to me because I’ve been in credit card debt and I think my father said something very similar. He said, ‘You can get out of this. It’s not the end of the world, and just remember that the country you live in is in debt.’ The only thing that’s changed is that instead of billions, we probably should have said trillions.

CLICK HERE to listen to our entire interview with P.J. Hogan

Confessions of a Shopaholic opens nationwide on February 13.

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