In his many vanity film projects, Henry Jaglom has done East Hampton, the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, food fetishes, motherhood and other subjects dear to middle- and upper-middle-class hearts. Now, with Going Shopping, Jaglom goes for ladies shopping, L.A.-upscale style.
He's chosen another tony setting, a Santa Monica boutique caught between the sweeping Pacific shore and eager, deep-pocketed females in need of a fashion fix that is also a bargain. As in previous works, Jaglom interrupts his bright and shiny but slim narrative with seemingly off-the-cuff confessions, here from female shoppers both eager and reluctant, obsessed with or repelled by the ritual. As happens in his films, the talking heads are more amusing than his and co-writer/lead actress Victoria Foyt's story creations.
Designer and boutique owner Holly G. (Foyt) has creative skills that far surpass her business skills. In fact, Holly has let her boyfriend Adam (Bruce Davison) drive the boutique to the brink of bankruptcy. Only a pre-Mother's Day sale, with all of the distaff shopping community rallied, can save the day. But not so fast. Holly's ditzy mom Winnie (Lee Grant) pulls her daughter into a scheme wherein Winnie's louche boyfriend Richie (Grant's real life partner Joe Feury) puts Holly in touch with sleazy loan shark Jimmy (Robert Romanus).
Jimmy's terms are untenable and, except for brisk sales at the boutique, all looks glum until Holly, who has dumped Adam, meets Miles (Rob Morrow), a laid-back, tree-hugging type who's a budding furniture designer. There's a big reveal at the end (an unexpected serial shoplifter emerges) that's as phony as a Gucci knockoff, but Jaglom means for all to have a good time. Things are played for laughs and the nonsense will occasionally elicit smiles, especially some of the more impassioned and funny doc-style testimonials as female shoppers vent to the camera. But this boutique of a movie won't bring in the madding crowds of a Macy's sale and will have to settle for subsequent "window" shoppers in the home.