In LITTLE BLACK BOOK, Kathy Bates plays a Jerry Springer-type named Kippie
Kann, the star of "Kippie Kann Do!!" With her ratings in a long term decline,
she needs something to jazz up her show, especially during sweeps week, when
the show broadcasts one episode live. Their usual fare of grandmother
prostitutes and plastic surgery mistakes just won't be controversial enough.
Into the madcap mayhem of Kann's Krew -- they love to abuse the "K" letter for
comedic effect -- comes a new associate producer named Stacy (Brittany Murphy),
a Diane Sawyer wannabe. Stacy is a Type A personality like her mom (Sharon
Lawrence), whose motto is: "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."
Murphy is better here than she was in UPTOWN GIRLS, which isn't saying much.
One of Stacy's fellow associate producers, Barb (Holly Hunter), cons her into
digging into her boyfriend's black book -- a Palm Organizer, the show is one
long product placement -- to find out about her boyfriend's ex-girlfriends. An
exceedingly bland Ron Livingston plays Derek, Stacy's live-in boyfriend. She
also lives with Bob, his big, stinky dog. Trying to act Murphy's age, Hunter
is kind of embarrassing to watch.
Stacy finds that Derek used to date Lulu Fritz (Josie Maran), a barfing
supermodel, Dr. Rachel Keyes (Rashida Jones), a famous gynecologist, and Joyce
(Julianne Nicholson), a head chef. Making an examination appointment with the
doctor produces the movie's best line. In disgust, Stacy complains later that
"I went to third base with his ex!" More typical of the humor is the time that
Stacy smashes Derek's answering machine when he tries to remotely retrieve a
message from one of his ex-girlfriends.
The movie never decides if it wants to be a slapstick comedy about an
outlandish talk show or a romantic comedy about relationships. After
floundering through the first two acts, it almost clicks in the third when it
goes for bittersweet. But then all momentum is ground to a complete halt by a
predictable, big confrontation scene that goes on for what feels like an
"I need a reality check," Stacy complains in voice-over about her life. That's
the problem with the movie too. Good comedy is grounded in reality. The talk
show is never believable nor are the relationships. If Murphy and Livingston
ever had any genuine chemistry together, those scenes must have been left on
the cutting room floor. Only Julianne Nicholson (the female lead in TULLY)
manages to make her character real. The rest of acting is as fake as -- well,
LITTLE BLACK BOOK runs a long 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for "sexual
content/humor and language" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 15, giving the film ***, said it was funny but nothing
special. He thought it was a weird little story that would have worked better
if it had focused on just one of its two storylines. He said that it should
have ended sooner and that the dialog was cheesy.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes