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LITTLE BLACK BOOK (PG-13) (2004)

Revolution Studios/Sony Pictures

Official Site

Director: Nick Hurran

Producers: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Deborah Schindler, William Sherak, Jason Shuman

Written by: Melissa Carter, Elisa Bell

Cast: Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter, Ron Livingston, Kathy Bates, Julianne Nicholson, Kevin Sussman

 Rating:


When I took my seat at the movie theater, my hands were sweating, my nerves were groaning, and a distinct sense of nausea was beginning to paw at my stomach. “Jesus,” I thought, “not another chick flick.” Thankfully, though, Little Black Book isn’t just another chick flick. I mean, yeah, it opens with the requisite introductory voiceover, stars cute-as-a-button Brittany Murphy, and starts off with the most basic of humor ploys, but after a slightly bumpy beginning, the storyline and character development take off beautifully.

Murphy in this movie plays Stacey Holt, a sweetly ambitious (yeah, I know, but it’s Brittany) journalism major whose goal to one day work with Diane Sawyer finds her toiling away in low-level positions at low-level stations. Things finally seem to look up for her when she lands an associate producer gig on one of the top daytime talk shows in the country (a truly frightening Jerry Springer-esque affair starring Kathy Bates). Stacey buddies up with fellow AP’s Barb (Hunter) and Ira (Sussman), and finally begins to feel like she’s making headway in the industry (despite the rambunctious midgets and prostitute grandmas) when her life is irrevocably turned upside-down by one of the show’s guests. While watching Kippie Kann (Bates) sympathetically nod her head at beautiful-but-bulimic supermodel Lulu, Stacey’s boyfriend Derek (Livingston) absentmindedly mentions that he used to date her. When Stacey questions him further on the matter, though, he retreats into an “I don’t want to talk about it” shell, citing his discomfort with talking about past relationships as the reason.

Hmm, what to do, what to do? Let the matter lie, festering, underneath a façade of calm, or dig it up ruthlessly once the man’s back is turned and find out what else he’s been hiding? I believe every insecure and shamelessly jealous person is behind me when I say SNOOP! Using her powers of interview as an associate producer—as well as the Palm Pilot Derek so thoughtfully left behind—Stacey methodically questions and examines each of her boyfriend’s exes, including his first love Joyce (Nicholson). And, might I add, rightfully so. Each interview reveals the most interesting facts about Derek’s life and current activities. Anyone who’s every snuck a glance at his or her significant other’s phone or email or secret shoebox wedged underneath the bed will know, though, such less-than-moral detective work can only end in disaster. Stacey’s particular disaster, however, is as startling to her as it is to the audience.

I’m sure this summary sounds pretty Velveeta-y, but what I appreciated most about this movie is that it wasn’t cheesy. The story pivots on the dilemma of human insecurity—an issue easy to connect with—and the acting follows likewise. Some of the dialogue seemed so real, I felt like the actors were actually ad-libbing. No character is wholly good or completely bad, just human. Although there were definitely some shrink-wrapped Hollywood moments (recurring themes, stereotypical moments, comic misunderstandings), you nevertheless understand that the movie’s intentions are genuine. The ending, for example, is wholly unlike a typical warm-and-fuzzy chick flick resolution. I remember thinking “Kudos, man, kudos.” And that’s what I give Little Black Book as a whole, really—one major kudos.

—Emily Younger

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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