"Going Shopping" is yet another idiosyncratic comedy collaboration between Henry Jaglom and his wife, star and co-writer Victoria Foyt, and, with "Eating" and "Babyfever" it completes an informal trilogy that treats women's anxieties over food, motherhood and now clothes with humor and affection.
Foyt's Holly Gilmore is the proprietor of a trendy boutique on Santa Monica's upscale Montana Avenue. Holly designs many of the clothes in a studio above the store and is a natural saleswoman. She has worked hard to establish the store over the last decade, so it comes as a shock, as Mother's Day weekend approaches, that she will lose her lease on Monday if she does not come up with $40,000. Holly learns the hard way that she has become the latest in a long line of otherwise smart women who have foolishly entrusted their finances to a smooth-talking lover, in Holly's case Bruce Davison's Adam, who chides Holly for her lack of faith and vision, ignoring the imminent loss of the business that means so much to her.
Walking out on Adam, Holly buckles down to trying to meet the imminent deadline. Signs proclaiming 30% off on all merchandise swiftly go up. Calls are made to regular customers about the sale, and Holly casts about for a quick loan. Sizing up the shifty-looking boyfriend (Joseph Feury) of her eccentric mother (Lee Grant), she guesses correctly that he can line her up with a loan shark (Robert Romanus); there's also the hope that her richest customer (Cynthia Sikes) can come up with a $100,000 investment.
Sikes' Lisa is also a member of the film's very large Greek chorus of shoppers, whose revelations of what shopping means to them intercut the complications, at once funny and rueful, that swirl around the distraught but game Holly. Some of these revelations are hilarious, such as one woman's disclosure that she "shops like a man eats: I don't look up until I'm done and filled up." Another woman remarks with absurd grimness that shopping is "not an amateur sport. You go, you buy, you wear." Jaglom's pace is buoyant, but he could have done with a few less of his shopper choristers.
There's a warm sense of bonding between Holly, her mother, Winnie, and her daughter Coco (Mae Whitman), yet Winnie proves full of surprises. Jaglom has said that creating Winnie gave Grant the opportunity to draw from her own colorful mother's unusual concepts of resourcefulness. As if Holly didn't have her hands full, a charming man, Miles (Rob Morrow), in search of a purse for his picky girlfriend (Jennifer Grant), finds himself attracted to her.
Hanania Baer, Jaglom's usual cinematographer, brings a glow to "Going Shopping," which is already suffused with Jaglom's characteristic affection for women. At times movies seem rife with misogyny, yet Jaglom consistently expresses a love for women in his films. It's also never merely a matter of physical attraction, for he clearly also likes women for themselves.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Times guidelines: Suitable for older children
A Rainbow Releasing presentation. Director-editor Henry Jaglom. Producer Judith Wolinsky. Screenplay by Victoria Foyt and Jaglom. Cinematographer Hanania Baer. Costumes Gail Dekrassel. Production designer John Mott. Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes.
At selected theaters.