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Little Black Book

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Little Black Book

Starring: Brittany Murphy, Kathy Bates
Director: Nick Hurran
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Holly Hunter, Ron Livingston, Rick Overton, Tim McKay, Josie Maran, Rashida Jones, Gary Hoffman, Trent Gill, Lee Cherry, Jason Antoon

Review by Harvey Karten
1 star out of 4

Do you trust your boyfriend/girlfriend, or do you imagine that he/she is cheating on you? At what point short of being actually engaged do you believe that your special person should be exclusively yours...when you're living together? How far should a reality show go before its betrayals are so mean that they should be declared ethically out-of-bounds? These questions are tackled in Nick Hurran's movie "Little Black Book" in a way that's somewhat different from how the theme is dealt with by other films. However, because of the principal performer's annoying acting and a script that fails to have any but the most dumbed-down set of actions and reactions, "Little Black Book" is a perfectly innocuous romantic comedy–one with little romance and less comedy.

As narrated by Stacy Holt (Brittany Murphy), this is her story, one about a young woman who digs the music of Carly Simon but most of all wants to be hired as an assistant producer to Diane Sawyer. Though at first she falls short of her ambition, she is hired to be the assistant to Barb (Holly Hunter), who is on the production team of a Jerry-Springer-like show called Kippy Kann, named for the Oprah-type impresario played by Kathy Bates. Because ratings are dropping, the show on the short-list for cancellation, the company wants to makes its best impression during sweeps week by trashing the reputations of men and women alike. When Stacy hooks up romantically with Derek (Ron Livingston) and finds out by hacking her boyfriend's Palm Pilot that he's playing around on the outside, Barb gets an idea. Why not have Stacy go to each of these girlfriends, pretend she's interested in getting them on the show to discuss their careers, but then pull the rug from under them by exposing Derek's infidelities? The women turn up dutifully, specifically Lulu (Josie Maran), a supermodel with a Gallic accent; Rachel (Rashida Jones), a gynecologist who thinks she's on to publicize her book; and Joyce (Julianne Nicholson), who is on her way to becoming a master chef.

"Little Black Book" has more in mind than to toss out yet another dull romantic comedy: its aim is to satirize TV reality shows, as though the programs themselves are not a self-parody. As satire, this pic fails to project anything new, nor does it succeed as romantic comedy since there is no chemistry between Murphy and Livingston, the latter an excellent comedic actor whose performance in Mike Judge's "Office Space" five years ago made that the comedy of the year.

Brittany Murphy comes across as a young Goldy Hawn but lacks the latter's subtlety and charisma. She tries to evoke laughter from the audience by portraying herself as a klutz, but this time, writers Melissa Carter and Elisa Bell give her awfully little substance to work with.

Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten

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