Little Black Book (12A)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/10/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Decent comedy, enlivened by some strong performances and a commendable desire to buck a few romcom trends.

If you were unlucky enough to see the truly dreadful Uptown Girls it’s entirely possible that the words “Brittany Murphy vehicle” are capable of striking terror into your heart. Rest assured, then, that Little Black Book is about a hundred times better than Uptown Girls. (The fact that Little Black Book is still only a three star movie hopefully goes some way to conveying just how eye-gougingly awful Uptown Girls was). At any rate, Little Black Book is a well written, nicely acted film that begins as a romcom and then turns into something else entirely.

Associate Producer On Daytime Talk Show

Brittany Murphy plays Stacy Holt, a young woman with relationship trust issues, who gets a job as an associate producer on the Jerry Springer-alike Kippie Kann Show. She’s taken under the wing of her co-worker, Barb (Holly Hunter), who encourages her to put forward her idea for a show segment about snooping through your boyfriend’s personal organiser to find out about his past relationships.

When the idea gets accepted, Stacy uses the show as an excuse to track down and interview all the ex-girlfriends of her current boyfriend, sports agent Derek (Ron Livingston, from Sex and the City). However, in doing so, Stacy finds out rather more than she was expecting…

Brittany Murphy has built a career on playing likeably ditzy characters and Stacy Holt is no exception, which is just as well, because some of her behaviour borders on outright mentalism. Livingston makes a solid romantic lead and there’s also good comic support from Stephen Tobolowsky (as the show’s producer), Kevin Sussman (as fellow colleague Ira) and Kathy Bates in a splendid turn as Kippie Kann. There’s also a delightful celebrity cameo at the end of the film.

Two performances in particular stand out: the first is Holly Hunter, who gives an impressively multi-layered performance as Barb; and the second is Julianne Nicholson, who gives a genuinely sweet, adorable performance, as Joyce, Derek’s largest-looming ex. It’s safe to say that the film would completely fall apart if Nicholson wasn’t as utterly convincing (and touching) as she is here.

Subtle Changes Of Direction

The impressive thing about the film is the way that it subtly changes direction – it starts off as a common or garden romcom but gradually becomes something quite different, managing to make satirical comments on the daytime TV industry as well as pulling off a commendably non-Hollywood, surprisingly mature ending.

That said, it’s still a comedy at heart and there are some good one-liners and several genuinely funny scenes, including a predictable but no less amusing misunderstanding when Stacey interviews an ex who’s a gynaecologist. Unfortunately, the film also feels the need to indulge in farting dog jokes, which rather lowers the tone somewhat. They’re not even good In short, Little Black Book is a lot better than you might be expecting, thanks to some solid performances and an intelligent, well-plotted script. Oh, and someone please give Julianne Nicholson a bigger part in the future – she deserves it. Worth seeing.

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Little Black Book (12A)
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Content updated: 17/10/2017 05:02

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