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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.54%
Average: 30.77%
Pretty Bad: 11.54%
Total Crap46.15%

2 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Little Black Book
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Jason Whyte

"The feel bad comedy of the year!"
1 stars

"Little Black Book" is the dungheap of romantic comedies, a vile, ugly and unpleasant film that creates improbable characters and unlikely situations, and doesn't even take the time to follow them all the way through. Its lead character asks us to have sympathy for someone who doesn't think before her actions, does harm to friends and family, and gets away with it at the end.

Stacy (Brittany Murphy) is a recently assigned associate producer for a daytime talk show called "Kippie Kann Do!" She has always had the dream to work with Diane Sawyer, and to make obsessions worse, she's also hooked on Carly Simon's ethics; a poster of Mike Nichols' "Working Girl" is on display in her office. Stacy doesn't want to have Sawyer's job, mind you, but to be able to work alongside one of her idols. She's also totally insecure in relationships, and she wonders about her boyfriend Derek (Ron Livingston, a fine comic actor whose presence here is baffling) and his past girlfriends.

When the Kippie show faces cancellation, the idea of men's black phone books comes into play. Stacy is pressured by her mentor, Barb (Holly Hunter), to get into Derek's palm pilot. She finds old names still listed there, and starts making meetings with them under Barb's name, and with a false pretense that they'll appear on the show. There's a former model (Josie Maran), a gynecologist (Rashida Jones) and a chef named Joyce (Julianne Nicholson), a woman who has a more emotional past with Derek, and makes a friendship with Stacy, aka Barb. This creates a lot of bad comedy where Stacy hides her identity and gets into bad slapstick. (When one of Derek's ex's calls his home business line, Stacy trashes the phone with his hockey stick.)

The film's subject of daytime talk is dated. The Kippie show appears to be making light of shows like Jenny Jones and Maury Povich, but those shows are long gone and stuck on syndication. Kathy Bates looks embarrassed and ashamed to play the host, and she's not very good at doing over-the-top. Her comedic performance in "About Schmidt" is more fun to watch. Here she even paraphrases a dated line from "Jerry Maguire" and one of the characters even points it out in case the audience is stupid enough to not realize it.

When the girls and Derek all come crashing together on Kippie's show, it creates about the most irritating 15 minutes I've seen in a film all year. Roger Ebert called the finale "virtuoso", but to me it was like a ripoff of something akin to Jerry Springer, that basically humiliates every lead character in the film, including Stacy, although the filmmakers are asking us to feel sorry for her wrongdoings, even though she had plenty of time to not push her friendship with Joyce the way she did.

If there's one thing to watch for in the film, it's an absolutely likable performance by the talented Julianne Nicholson, who impressed me earlier this year in the otherwise so-so indie-drama "Seeing Other People" where she played a woman who wanted to try sleeping around before she got married. Here, Joyce is a nice, warm person who is duped and shamed by Stacy, and the film leaves her crying and sobbing and doesn't bother to resolve itself.

And yet her performance just doesn't save the awfulness of this story, one that does every moronic screenplay trick in the book without any insight into reality, or even good filmmaking. Director Nick Hurran shoots in a boring sitcom style, and who knows how much of the original screenplay (co-written by Elisa Bell and Melissa Carter) was scrapped and changed around to make anything cohesive. Although I won't be touching the DVD release, perhaps it would have over a dozen deleted scenes tying together the loose ends at the finale, and possibly an entire alternate cut where we follow the perspective of the Joyce story.

The end result is something near a train-wreck, although I'm sure if that train-wreck was filmed crashing onto the Kippie Kann Do set...that would be a film worth watching.

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originally posted: 08/12/04 02:38:43
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User Comments

9/17/10 art LAME!!!! 1 stars
1/19/05 V. Schaeffer, you mean SWEET-charming-crazy? Rather see BrittanyMurphy fart while dog fux Bates&Hunter. 2nd thought,not wish that on dog 1 stars
1/11/05 chris. the cover told me all i needed to know 1 stars
12/01/04 Ashley Corpening Good point, Evangelica, provided you mean Brittany Murphy. 1 stars
12/01/04 Evangelica Schnapfenschalz Never a good sign when Bethany Murphy struggles to play most likeable character! 2 stars
9/23/04 Carly Simon isn't god Kippie Kann screw herself! Kathy Bates should stick with playing Queen Victoria. 1 stars
9/22/04 Jenna Furr My, how the show-stealer of GIRL, INTERRUPTED has been wasted ever since! 1 stars
8/24/04 Me A lot better than I expected, ending was great. 4 stars
8/18/04 Destiny Pifer wasn't bad for a romantic comedy 3 stars
8/07/04 Jake cohen "Brittany Murphy Makes the Movie" 3 stars
8/07/04 McGraw Sweet-charming-shit 2 stars
8/04/04 Ray Little Bad Movie 2 stars
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  06-Aug-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 04-Jan-2005



Directed by
  Nick Hurran

Written by
  Elisa Bell

  Brittany Murphy
  Ron Livingston
  Kathy Bates
  Holly Hunter
  Rashida Jones
  Sharon Lawrence

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