"Some Lessons Learned"
LITTLE BLACK BOOK is a romantic comedy with a little more on its mind than just comedy and romance. Although it has a funny, exciting finish, the premise of the story is not clear from the beginning, so it takes awhile for the plot to jell.
Told in flashback, the story focuses on Stacy Holt, a pretty young woman played by Brittany Murphy who wants to break into broadcast journalism in New York City, like her childhood heroine, Diane Sawyer. Schooled by her mother in the emotional pleasures of listening to singer Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain” and “Nobody Does It Better”), Stacy lands a job as an associate producer for a Jerry Springer type TV show starring hostess Kippie Kann, played by Kathy Bates.
Stacy is frustrated that her live-in boyfriend, Derek, a scout for the Red Devils hockey team, refuses to discuss his past relationships. With the encouragement of her co-worker Barb, played by Holly Hunter, Stacy delves into Derek’s Palm Pilot to learn a bout his ex-girlfriends. Using Kippie’s TV show as a ruse, Stacy interviews and befriends Derek’s three past girlfriends, only to discover Derek still has a friendly relationship with two of them, Rachel and Joyce.
At this point, the story becomes a morality tale of snooping, lying and betrayal in the electronic age, including a sharp satire against the evils of reality TV and Jerry Springer. The movie suggests that snooping on a loved one’s private affairs is not the best way to obtain knowledge or love, but also that positive personal relationships require honesty and loyalty. Furthermore, stabbing someone in the back is not the best way to win friends and influence people. Stacy also learns that it helps to be honest with yourself, not just the people around you. At one point, she compares herself to a curious Pandora unleashing a box filled with evil things, but she also resembles Eve in the Garden of Eden using forbidden methods to uncover forbidden knowledge that will destroy her innocence.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK picks up steam when Stacy befriends one of Derek’s ex-girlfriends, Joyce, who is played exceptionally well by Julianne Nicholson. There doesn’t seem much chemistry, however, between Stacy and Derek. This fact actually becomes part of the point in the ending’s multiple revelations, but it should have come more as a surprise, perhaps by getting an older actress to play Stacy or a younger actor to play Derek.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK has some solid moral points to make, but these are undercut by the fact that both Stacy and Derek have slept around and now live together. The movie also has a feminist perspective, but this quality is not overbearing or explicitly offensive, unlike Producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas previous movie, MONA LISA SMILE. Furthermore, the movie implicitly and explicitly lambastes Jerry Springer type reality shows, not because the shows deal with immoral, sleazy subjects, but because some of them, especially Springer, often deceive the real people who appear on them. Some foul language and sexual references also require extreme caution.
The biggest artistic problem with LITTLE BLACK BOOK is that viewers have to wait for the well-written ending to fully enjoy the movie and its provocative story of betrayal and the dreams of youth. Also, the heroine’s character does not seem fully convincing, especially in the movie’s first half, but many other viewers may not have the same reaction.
(Ro, Fe, BB, FR, LL, V, SS, A, D, MM) Light Romantic worldview with feminist perspective and some solid moral elements, including truth telling and loyalty extolled and at least one positive but undeveloped reference to God and His Providence, and confused reference to Hell and devils may leave some viewers with false religious, philosophical ideas; one possible “f” word may be muffled, nine obscenities, three strong profanities, 11 light profanities, and large pet dog has gas problem; light comical slapstick violence includes woman smashes phone to pieces using hockey stick, midget shoves woman to ground, fighting on stupid TV show; some elements of sexual immorality such as unmarried couple lives together, woman speaks of being in bed with ex-boyfriend, sheep walks by camera which may mean that TV program is doing a show on bestiality (movie never really says, but that’s the apparent implication), talk of grandmother being a prostitute and making money on weekends, brief talk of vagina and warts, heroine visits gynecologist who’s written a book about female anatomy and is examined (nothing very explicit shown, but chart on wall briefly shows internal organs); no nudity but images of female cleavage and women in underwear; alcohol use; smoking; and, much lying and deceit but rebuked at the end, spying, characters aren’t fully honest with one another, betrayal rebuked, manipulation rebuked, TV program and its workers exploit midgets, allusion to opening Pandora’s Box, and somewhat vague references to Fate.
GENRE: Romantic Comedy
Told in flashback, LITTLE BLACK BOOK focuses on young Stacy Holt, played by Brittany Murphy, who wants to break into broadcast journalism in New York City. Stacy lands a job with a Jerry Springer type TV show. Stacy is frustrated that her live-in boyfriend, Derek, a professional hockey scout, refuses to discuss his past relationships. With the encouragement of her co-worker Barb, Stacy delves into Derek’s Palm Pilot to learn about his ex-girlfriends. Using her TV show as a ruse, Stacy befriends Derek’s three past girlfriends, only to discover Derek still has a friendly relationship with two of them.
LITTLE BLACK BOOK eventually becomes a morality tale of snooping, lying, and betrayal in the electronic age, including a sharp satire against reality TV and Jerry Springer. The movie picks up steam when Stacy befriends one of Derek’s ex-girlfriends, played exceptionally well by Julianne Nicholson. There doesn’t seem much chemistry, however, between Stacy and Derek. LITTLE BLACK BOOK has some solid moral points to make, but these are undercut by the fact that Stacy and Derek have slept around and now live together. Significant foul language and some sexual references also require extreme caution.