Review – Little Black Book

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LITTLE BLACK BOOK is not a major departure from the rom-com norm, however, it certainly doesn’t end up where the sugary genre convention says it should. It uses the 007 approach to dating – why be honest with your boyfriend when you can trick and spy on him?

Brittany Murphy plays Stacy Holt, who narrates the movie in an overly cute voice, and is currently seeing Derek (Ron Livingston). He is a recruiter for a New Jersey hockey team, 10 years Stacy’s senior, dated a lot of women and won’t discuss his romantic past with his current girl.

The film begins with Stacy’s dreams of a big-time career in television. They become one step closer to being fulfilled when she lands a job as an associate producer for the show Kippie Kann. Kathy Bates plays Kippie, the talk show host of the fading talk show of the same name. The show is on the brink of being cancelled (the ratings are falling) and it is shamelessly seeking sensationalism with topics like, Grandma’s a Hooker, So Handle It! Young Stacy suggests a show about the little black book of the person you’re dating, which may contain evidence that you’re being cheated on.

When Derek goes on a business trip, Stacy is egged on by her colleague Barb (Holly Hunter) into going through his little black book – the Palm Pilot he accidentally left behind. There, Stacy discovers the identity of several of his ex-girlfriends, along with evidence that he remains in close touch with one in particular.

The recently jilted Barb persuades Stacy to interview three of them by pretending to consider them as guests for the upcoming show. Stacy then turns into an undercover agent, an espionage specialist in the war between the sexes. Instead of just sitting Derek down and discussing the situation with him, Stacy decides to investigate three women from the Palm.

Pretty soon she’s dug herself into a deep moral abyss, using her job as a front for interviewing and, sometimes, befriending a nightmare parade of intimidating ex-lovers. There’s Lulu (Josie Maran), a sexually insatiable, bulimic supermodel, Rachel (Rashida Jones) a gynaecologist who Stacy thought was a podiatrist when she made an appointment pretending to have warts, and Joyce (Julianne Nicholson) a rising chef, the perfect girl-next-door who still holds a torch for Derek. This new knowledge shocks Stacy. Joyce is seeing him regularly as a friend and, in fact, is much more attractive, capable and emotionally honest than Murphy’s whiny, self-centred Stacy, who believes he may trade her in for Joyce.

This twinkly but ironically tart comedy of consequences is entertaining for those times when you don’t want to have to think too hard about what you’re watching. Murphy’s twinkle-eyed charm and Hunter’s unaffected genius combine well in this weightless but canny comedy. Their personalities aren’t dependent on stereotypical plot devices and the snappy, spontaneous dialogue fits well with the organic, flowing story line.

* * * It’s a cute, chirpy comedy. And remember – don’t leave your little black book lying around, you never know who may find it!