Given praise and recognition for its insight and beauty, and its smart, funny, sometimes sad look at real life; present day romance Shopgirl is possibly the number one overrated film of the last decade. A predictable little story about a girl named Mirabelle who works the glove counter at Saks, it is as exciting and captivating as watching a girl sit at a glove counter. Yowza! How touching and poignant can a sales girl be? Now let’s throw in two guys (one older, one younger) that both want her. Ohmgod, how crazy and original! I should warn you, Shopgirl is not a chick flick—it’s a single chick flick. So she’s the poor little shop girl who, of course, needs to be rescued from her life by a man. The two, count them, two men that want her are of course, polar opposites of one another. The younger one, Jeremy (played by Jason Schwartzman) is grungy and a little neurotic, and yet of course, tender and willing to learn about how to really make a woman happy. The older man Ray (Steve Martin) is, of course, the divorcee looking for a good consistent time with someone willing to not be exclusive with him, but always available for him. Whatever shall a single girl do? (Where’s option three: she hangs out by herself, orders Chinese food, and waits for someone willing and able to be in a relationship with her?)
While the film in all its mediocrity is slightly touching but altogether a flop, there are a few, but very few good points. 1) Toward the end Jeremy finds a comb and gets his greasy hair out of his face. 2) Steve Martin isn’t a bad actor just a bad filmmaker. 3) Shopgirl is somewhat decent if you think about it as a different version of Pretty Woman without expecting it to be anywhere near as good.
The most annoying thing here is the narration by Steve Martin. Rather than Martin very clearly reading to us what Mirabelle asked Ray about his life, shouldn’t we have just heard that scene? Or, rather than Martin very clearly reading to us what it’s like for Mirabelle to have sex with someone and then be held, shouldn’t we have just seen her reaction? Or, rather than Martin very clearly reading to us, shouldn’t we have been informed that this was a moving picture and that we may be required to think during it? This was possibly the most stagnant and uninventive narration ever. “And Mirabelllllle, knowing Ray could not love herrrrrrrrr, decided to take into her body the lasssst smell of his home and forever leave his comfortssss” Whatever the text is for sticking your tongue out and making a noise while thrusting your thumb in a downward motion,…stick it here. The whole narration reminds me of Chevy Chase in Funny Farm when he finally takes his wife away from the house to read his novel and after hours of reading she burst into laughter at how terrible it is.
Shopgirl is melodramatic and obviously trying too hard to be a romance movie. You can tell because of the music. I do like the variety. A little sad and calm, a little passionate/romantic, and then a little rock to spice it up. The issue here is that the little sad/romantic music is the same thing over and over. Oh, here come the violins again, we must be expected to get the tissues. It’s about as bad as that stupid song about the Christmas shoes. Oh, the violins are coming. It becomes so unemotional and dry that it also becomes annoying. Somewhere between touching and real we have A History of Violins.
Possibly the only thing that could have made Shopgirl worse was if Jimmy Fallon actually accepted the part of Jeremy—but that’s saying something if even Fallon decided not to do it. Not only is the film the cinematic equivalent of a bad romance novel but also the praise it has received now seems more like a collective mercy fuck for Steve Martin’s career. Extras have become something of a bane of my DVD viewing existence; nearly all I’m subjected to are unnecessary and a waste of time. Shopgirl is no different. We’re treated (?) to all of two deleted scenes (with a PLAY ALL option) that are just plain…well, boring. Neither of these clips would have made the movie any more interesting or important. Sure it would have filled in a few gaps but it’s nothing a little violin music couldn’t have replaced. As most mothers will warn “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Well, if you don’t have any good extras, don’t show any at all.
Director Anand Tucker’s “insightful” commentary, although a noble try, gives viewers a boring look into the obvious trappings of the film. Tucker has put a lot of work into the movie, sectioning it off into distinct parts and being careful as a director to make the movie what it is. However, none of these things come across to the average viewer, who before hearing the commentary is unaware of any of it. That is how the movie has failed him. All of his effort has gone unnoticed. So while the commentary is a good one, what he’s saying doesn’t quite match up to what we see on screen. Rather than the two being identical twins, the movie and the commentary come off more like step- sisters.
Rounding out this plethora of extras is “Evolution of a Novella: The Making of Shopgirl”, which is the obligatory “I love working with him/her/they” and “everyone’s so great” type fare. This feature doesn’t really bring much to the table other than throwing out the word novella into everyone’s faces. Okay, we get it. It’s like a novel, but shorter. We all know this. Why don’t you just say book and get Martin off of his velvet couch for two seconds and let him realize, film or novellllla, the story isn’t that great.
Finally, aside from the fact that the over airbrushed, superimposed Claire Danes has a giant hand on the cover of the box, I would have liked to have seen some outtakes or at least have some horrible girly quizzes on the disc. Make it worth someone’s while if they are the type of person to adore this film. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason has plenty of these insignificant little bits on the disc but at least it was a full, well-rounded disc. Unfortunately for Shopgirl, I don’t know that any amount of excellent extras could have saved this girl, she’ll just keep earning minimum wage.
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