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All romantic comedies follow a standard formula: Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. As the audience, we're supposed to enjoy the How of the formula. And often times that formula is very entertaining. Along comes this refreshing, unpredictable "Little Black Book" that does not follow the familiar formula, yet is a romantic comedy -- and a very well made one, I think -- the cumulative vote so far is less than 5. Makes no sense to me. Here's what you get with "Little Black Book." An intelligent script well directed. Brittany Murphy is impressive in a very seamless performance. Julianne Nicholson practically steals the show. Plus Josie Maran steams the whole thing up. What else do you want? 7 out of 10
It is very easy for a film like Little Black Book to be quickly labeled
as just another "Chick Flick" starring a 20-something actress that
looks pretty. But after actually taking a chance on a genre I usually
run away from, I have to say this was a pleasant experience.
Brittany Murphy (Clueless) stars as the journalist-driven career girl taking on an associate producer job at a Oprah-type talk show. One of her fellow producers, played by the very-hot-for-her-age Holly Hunter gives her the usual talk of the business of how things are run. During a ideas meeting with the Executive Producer (played by the hilarious character actor, Stephen Tobolowsky, whom I met last month) the idea is pitched about snooping into a boyfriend's little black book or in this 21st century, a Palm Pilot.
The film manages to avoid the usual chick-flick clichés and gives us a central- character with a back-story and more than one-dimension (take that Mandy Moore). From the great soundtrack by Carly Simon (whom makes a cameo), to the always positive force of Diane Sawyer(?), this movie has heart and a wicked sense of humor when it comes to exposing talk shows for their secrets, lies, and pure entertainment souls.
So, here is a sci-fi/action/thriller genre fan, who will try a little harder to give chick-flicks a little more of the silver screen.
Is it all right to say that this film surprised me? Will I be shot
whenever I try to talk to anyone about film if I say this? Well, I am
going to take a risk and be honest with everyone when I say that I
actually enjoyed this film. It was not at all what I was expecting and
answered the question as to why Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates would
choose to do a film of this level. This was a very quirky film that
suddenly went into this dark cavern at the end that left my jaw hanging
wide open. Little Black Book speaks about relationships, the honesty of
life, and the brutal truth of the television programming we like to
call, reality television. Ever watch Jerry Springer and wonder how they
get guests like that onto the show and be surprised by the truth that
unfolds? Well, strangely enough, Little Black Book answers those
questions. While Brittany Murphy headlines this film, she is definitely
not the star. Her acting ability takes back seat to some of the most
powerful actresses in Hollywood and even backseat to a story that did
not come from Hollywood's recycling bin. This was a surprise film for
me and proves yet again that you cannot judge a film by the way that
the marketing team has decided to create the box and previews.
I mentioned that Murphy's acting was not the pinnacle point to this film, and I cannot stress that enough. The true stars of this film are Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates. I though that they took these exceptionally small roles and defined the entire film with them. This is especially truth with Holly Hunter. Her character confused me throughout the entire film, constantly making me think that she took this role to pay more bills and that was all. Then, when the ending took shape, I knew exactly why she agreed to this performance. It was outstanding. The ability that Hunter has to contain all that she needs until the very end was amazing for this film. Normally, you don't expect to see that caliber of acting in a film called Little Black Book, but you do. Hunter plays the part of the little red devil on Murphy's shoulder so well that it would be hard not to see it until the final moments. I don't want to give anything away, but do not give up on the performances until the climactic ending. You will be utterly surprised. The same for Kathy Bates that seemed like she didn't do anything special, but I saw that she did. She, again, took a very small character and almost centralized her to the entire film. Not something I was expecting with this little ditty of a film. Ron Livingston does decently well playing Berger I mean Derek. While Murphy falls at the end of the pile due to constantly trying to upscale those actresses that surround her. You could tell that she was trying to keep the focus on herself instead of working with her surrounding counter-parts. This was the only negative aspect to the acting, the battle between Murphy's ego and the rest of the ensemble cast.
If this film could win any award out there, I think that it deserves a writing award. Screenwriter Melissa Carter has taken everything we know about romantic Hollywood films and almost repotted it into the world of reality television. These were two avenues that I didn't think could be combined, but they were and done with the skill of a find author. What I mean by this is that the story flowed. There were not any jumps, bumps, or painful moments from the beginning to the end. The writing was surprisingly strong for this film. I was not expecting some of the lines to come from our actress's mouth, but they did and were very poignant to the plot. This was not a film overly cluttered with cheesy catch-lines like "You've Got Mail" and "You had me at 'Hello"". The lines for this film were dark and a bit disturbing which surprised me that I didn't catch on to them earlier in the film. Again, I was ready for a simple romantic comedy, but found something disturbingly original and different in both the acting and writing.
Finally, I would like to say that without modern technology this would have been a very simple love story. The characters would have remained in one place without the excitement of a PALM or computer. So, my next question to you is this, is modern technology the true villain of this film? There is the obvious one that appears near the end, but I don't think the idea of technology as the villain is ever presented. If it weren't for the PALM that Derek gives Stacy, none of this would have happened. They would have gone about their lives happy and none the wiser. Perhaps this film would have still been made, except with the modern technology it would have been labeled as a sci-fi, and that would have been an all together wild ride for anyone tuning in. Perhaps I have wandered off the beaten path a bit with this idea, but as I was writing this review I was thinking of how much emphasis there is on technology in this film, and perhaps director Nick Hurran was slightly slapping us in the face with this notion of evil technology. Something to think about as you watch this film.
Overall, I was impressed. As the laughter from my peers continues to engulf me, I stand by my decision and proudly wave it above my head. If you can get past Murphy's role and acting in this film, then I think you will also see the originality and creativity behind this picture.
Grade: **** out of *****
I saw this on DVD a couple of days ago and was pleasantly surprised. I have to say, Brittany Murphy is a good actress and she certainly holds her own in comedy situations. Though this is a comedy, she plays the character as the (semi) straight-man role and it makes the film, because it lets the other characters around her (like Holly Hunter, Kevin Sussman and Stephen Tobolowsky in particular) shine in some of the funnier parts. The use of the Carly Simon music throughout was a nice touch too, instead of the formulaic soundtrack of bubble-gum stuff a lot of other films use. The ending is especially good and makes this whole film worth checking out if you give it a chance. It starts a little slow but once the pace picks up, you'll be pleased you gave it a shot. Rent it when you want a different sort of romance tale.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
With the advance of technology, would be Lotharios had better pay
attention to the information they load into their devices because,
chances are, a new girlfriend will get her hands on it, and then,
disaster. Which is what happens to Stacy, the young woman at the center
of this comedy: she finds out about the ongoing relationship with
Derek's former love interests.
Nick Hurran directs this sunny comedy, which we didn't see during its commercial run. "The Little Black Book" proves to be much better than some of the comments about it when it made its debut. Melissa Carter and Elisa Bell are credited with writing the screen play.
The story centers about Stacy, an eager young woman who wants to make it into television. Diane Sawyer is her idol, and Carly Simon, and her music, have been constant companions for her and her mother, who finds Ms. Simon songs adorable. When Stacy is accepted as an associate producer for the Kippie Kann's talk show, she believes that's the stepping stone for bigger and better things that will follow. Well, how wrong she is proved to be!
When she falls in love with Derek, the hunky sports anchor, she gets more than what she bargained for. Barb, an older producer of the talk show, who has taken Stacy under her wing, is instrumental for unlocking the secret behind the other women in Derek's life when she shows her colleague how to use the program of Derek's Blackberry that he has left behind while covering out of town games. The discovery of a hidden part of Derek's life gives Stacy a chance to meet the other women with the pretense of auditioning them for a television program.
What Stacy doesn't realize is how Barb is double crossing her. In fact, the joke is on Stacy, as she is surprised as being at the center of Kippie's talk show. The experience devastates her. Stacy's career seems to be over because of the way Barb exposed her to a viewing audience and the women in Derek's life. The film ends in a positive note though.
Brittany Murphy, as Stacy, makes us care about her. Holly Hunter though, is magnificent as the heartless Barb, who thinks she is doing Stacy a big favor by unmasking the truth. Julianne Nicholson, one of the finest young actresses in movies, plays Joyce, one of Derek's former girlfriends. Kathy Bates has not much to do as Kippie. Ron Livingston is seen as the hunky Derek. Joseph Tobolowsky, Kevin Sussman are among the supporting players that contribute to make this film fun to watch.
Nick Hurran shows lots of talent and he indicates he is up to the challenge in future projects.
"Question: How does a girl who jumps, eyes open, down a rabbit hole,
plummeting into chaos, come out the other end unchanged? The answer?
The movie starts off not with a joke, not with two people falling in love, but with a profound statement. This film, although sometimes dramatic, sometimes fun and sometimes heartfelt, holds more than just what lies on the surface.
With an amazing twist and pretty well thought out characters (some superficial and others that are quite the opposite), I found more in this movie than I thought I would. I sat down to watch a romantic comedy. And what I came away with was something to think about and a story that made me feel something more than just a bit of satisfaction-- I felt learned. I felt that someone was telling me something; wisdom was being shared.
Sit down with this one and don't just watch it. Think about it. Delve into what it's saying. And I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to see what it really has to offer...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I liked this movie simply because the ending wasn't what anyone thought it would be. If you look at the world today.. what do you see? BETRAYAL! Everyone trying to get ahead in life and doing what ever they can to do it. Not everything in life is so happy and movies shouldn't always play out to the happy ending fairy tale. That's not the way it happens. The girl doesn't always get the guy in the end that doesn't happen in real life. And in this movie it was more important that she find herself and follow her dreams yet it was still a happy ending without the guy. It was more enjoyable to see that she actually found herself and moved on to follow her dream. Having a job with your idol and making something of yourself would mean more than getting a guy in the end. Being happy with yourself because of the obstacles that you overcame to get to a point of which you dreamed of your whole life is better than having won a man that didn't belong with you in the first place because his heart was with someone else the whole time you were together. Nothing in life is ever fair and this movie makes that statement true. We can never have everything we want.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After a day of lounging around with a sunburn I was in the mood for a
romantic comedy. When I picked Little Black Book to watch(for the first
time), I was terribly and excitedly surprised by the brash and shocking
ending. The movie tells the story of a young adult, Stacy, played
brilliantly by Brittany Murphy embarking on a new career and a new
aspect of a year's relationship. When Murphy discovers that her
boyfriend's last girlfriend was a bulimic supermodel, she gets caught
in a web of lies after she investigates his past 3 relationships while
he is away on a business trip. While all this is happening, she leans
on a new found friend, Barb, played maniacally by Holly Hunter. Near
the end of the movie Murphy is ratted out on live television, by her so
called friend played by Hunter. The twist from harmless love story to
venomous real life enrages you, but entices your viewing senses. But
the best part is that Murphy doesn't end up with a "lover" at all. She
ends up with a dream job and Carly Simon.
The previous description isn't fabulous, I'm still sorting through what I have seen. I give this movie a seven because it was somewhat dull before the twist, which was like I said at the end of the film. Murphy gave a great performance as a strong yet vulnerable woman. Hunter does a great job of making you hate her without ever really becoming a villain. This is a great film for a person who can appreciate the comedic realities of life.
I watched this movie because I like many of the actors: Holly Hunter, Kathy Bates, and Ron Livingston. Brittany Murphy is cute and appealing. But every scene was excruciatingly painful and there was nothing to redeem the film. The narration (by the main character) was trite, the plot was thin, and too much time was spent on the behind-the-scenes of a trashy daytime talk show (we all know that these shows are drivel and the producers lack integrity---please tell us something that we don't know). If it weren't a lazy Sunday morning, I would have certainly changed the channel. Please, don't be fooled, and don't waste your time. I have never bothered to review a movie based on how negatively I feel about it, but this movie took the cake.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into this movie not expecting an epic (come on!), but at least a halfway decent film to take my mind off things for an hour and a half. And, after wasting that hour and a half on this pathetic excuse for a rom-com, all I can say is: wow. I didn't think it was possible for a movie to be this bad, even after seeing Rumor Has It... (side note- don't see that one either!) I can usually put up with Brittany Murphy- I loved Uptown Girls- but she got on my last nerve. The plot was clumsily thrown together, and for a supposed comedy, I laughed out loud exactly once (at the phone smashing bit- gotta admit, that was hilarious). Even some die-hard fans of this movie admit the ending was one of the worst in romantic comedy history, and as a complete non-fan, it was just appalling. The only part I appreciated even a little bit was the way the writer avoided the trap of having Bean and Stacy get together. But overall, without a doubt one of the worst movies I've ever seen.
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