Little Black Book

Brittany Murphy has a wonderful vivacious quality to her that always seems to come out despite the type of role she chooses.  Even in a bad movie like Little Black Book, her boundless energy and wide-eyed optimism help deflect people from noticing how contrived and stupid this movie is.  It feels like the filmmakers worked backwards.  They thought of what seemed like a really cool idea - that plays out not so cleverly at the end of the film.  Neato!  Now, think of some story that gets the plot to this point.  At some point along the way, they probably thought it would be cool to throw in some modern gizmo (in this case, a palm pilot), which seems amusing now but will probably date the film at some point in the future.

So enter Stacy Holt (Murphy, Good Boy!, Uptown Girls), devout worshipper of Barbara Walters and Carly Simon, and aspiring media star.  She gets a job on the Kippie Kann show, with Kippie (Kathy Bates, Around the World in 80 Days, About Schmidt) a has-been, slowly on her way into ratings oblivion.  Holt gets a job as associate producer, and right around the same time discovers that her boyfriend Derek (Ron Livingston, The Cooler, Adaptation) once dated supermodel Lulu Fritz (Josie Maran, Van Helsing, Swatters).  Using her job as a cover, she interviews Lulu in order to find out more information on Derek.  Why would he forget to mention something like this?  Does he have something to hide?  Derek fortuitously leaves his PDA behind, allowing Stacy the opportunity to look up his exes and meet them.

One is Dr. Rachel Keyes (Rashida Jones, Roadside Assistance, East of A), who is a successful doctor and author.  The other is Joyce (Julianne Nicholson, Seeing Other People, Tully), the seemingly perfect girl-next-door.  In her various ruses to glean information from them, screenwriters Melissa Carter and Elisa Bell (Sleepover, National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation) have Stacy submit to various unfunny scenarios, like realizing that Keyes is not a podiatrist but a gynecologist.  The more she discovers about Derek's past loves, the more insecure she becomes, and Murphy gets more histrionic with her acting.  The only thing keeping her grounded is coworker Barb (Holly Hunter, Thirteen, Levity), who is like Stacy's mentor in the cutthroat world of television production.

The entire premise never really goes anywhere.  Director Nick Hurran (Virtual Sexuality, Plots with a View) seems content to let Little Black Book slide by on Murphy's considerable charm.  This is balanced with the fact that the Stacy character is a little too neurotic to be appealing.  The result is that at some points, the audience sympathizes with her, and at others, they want to strangle her.  Worse, most of what happens is not funny, and fails to hold the attention of the viewer.  There are some stale send-ups of the talk show world that were funny maybe ten years ago, and most of the other humor revolves around the fact that Stacy acts more and more like a psychopathic stalker

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sexual content/humor, and language.

Back to Movies