Little Black Book

Movie Review by Jonathan Harvey

Starring: Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter, Ron Livingston, Julianne Nicholson, Kathy Bates
Director: Nick Hurran

Brittany Murphy stars as Stacy, a young woman who’s just got her first job in television as an associate producer for a sub-Jerry Springer daytime talk show, in this romantic ‘comedy’ which does get you wondering, if only about how films like this managed to get ‘greenlit’.

The plot has Stacy, whose boyfriend Derek (Ron Livingston) is reluctant to talk about past relationships, stumbling upon his Palm Pilot – or electronic ‘little black book’ – while he’s on a trip away and succumbing increasingly to temptation to dig into his secretive past. Acting as the little devil on her shoulder, egging her on, is work colleague Barb (Holly Hunter) who wants to help Stacy get to the bottom of the mystery. And at the same time the talk show is busy preparing an episode on the very theme of the ‘Little Black Book’. As Stacy keeps delving into Derek’s past, she engineers meetings with a succession of his former girlfriends and discovers that at least one of them isn’t nearly as out of Derek’s life as she thought, but soon enough her meddling comes back to haunt her.

Stacy’s actions hardly make her a likeable character, but instead of pursuing the dark tone that this story needs Brittany Murphy plays her as a poor innocent just caught up in a big mistake. The supporting parts are left floundering in the wake of a truly awful script and the mind boggles how Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates (as the small-time talk show host) can end up in such a mess of a film as this. The only freshness on offer here is in a climax which does provide a good final twist, but it comes far too late to be a saving grace.

The end of LITTLE BLACK BOOK is truly cringe-worthy, featuring an embarrassing cameo by Carly Simon, whose songs Stacy likes to listen to when she’s upset. When it comes to this kind of movie, most people could do it better.

2 out of 6 stars

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