Sometimes the Truth Hurts
A romantic comedy without much romance and even less comedy, Little Black Book surely must be an embarrassment for such high quality actresses as Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates. Brittany Murphy probably should be forgiven because she’s a less experienced star. Besides, her leading role does require a range of emotion -- which she delivers as well as can be expected considering the ridiculous nature of the script.
Murphy (Just Married) portrays Stacy Holt, an insecure young woman who’s curious about her boyfriend’s old girl friends. Encouraged by an overly eager colleague (Oscar-winner Hunter -- for The Piano), Stacy starts investigating them with the help of Derek’s (Ron Livingston) palm pilot, only to find he still has a relationship with one or two of these gorgeous ladies. Because Derek hasn’t mentioned this to her, Stacy becomes quite paranoid. She decides to interview Derek’s old flames, supposedly for the TV talk show she’s involved in as a new associate producer. Naturally, unbelievable mayhem ensues. But Stacy’s biggest problem is her fear of losing a friendship she’s come to enjoy with one of Derek’s exes (Julianne Nicholson). (Aside: Regarding how this friendship comes across on screen, my husband insists we must ask Jane Austen’s forgiveness for watching it unfold.)
The daytime talk show in question here combines the worst of those dreadful TV programs featuring the likes of Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones. Bates (another Oscar-winner; she won for Misery) plays host Kippie Kann without her usual gusto -- but can you blame her? She presides over relatives confronting their hooker grandmothers, midgets brawling with everyone, and other assorted silliness. The idea might have looked good on paper, but making fun of programs like this is done much better by Mad TV.
One saving grace emerges from Little Black Book -- the music of Carly Simon. Both Stacy and her mother find solace during trying times by listening to Simon’s wonderful songs. Nothing could be more appropriate than “You’re So Vain” playing in the background as Stacy reacts to her confusion about Derek’s fidelity.
Is there anything to be learned from this disappointing movie? All sorts of platitudes come to mind. Let sleeping dogs lie. Curiosity killed the cat. Don’t rock the boat. A true friend is someone who knows your faults and likes you just the same.
Still, all those wise sayings fail to get to the heart of the matter. For me, the film’s most important message is: time wounds all heels -- male and female alike.
(Released by Columbia Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sexual content/humor and language.)