Little Black Book
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Stacy Holt has always wanted to be a television journalist. So when she lands her first big job as an associate producer for the Kippie Kann Do show (a TV talk-fest that's more Jerry Springer than Oprah Winfrey), she sees it as the first rung on a tall ladder.
At home, Stacy has a live-in boyfriend, Derek, who seems afraid of commitment and intimacy—at least the verbal variety. He's completely unwilling to talk about past girlfriends. And she can't stand it that he won't trust her with the info. When he’s out of town on business, then, his accidentally left-behind Palm Pilot proves too strong a temptation. Stacy starts snooping through this modern-day equivalent of a man’s “little black book” of girlfriends to find out more about his exes and why they ended up that way.
Once started down the road of duplicity, Stacy can’t stop herself. She sets about meeting these women under the pretense of interviewing them as potential guests on the Kippie Kann Do show. Her friend in the programming department, Barb, is her partner in crime, going so far as to switch names with Stacy so that the former girlfriends can’t figure out why Stacy is showing so much interest in them.
Stacy is about to learn an important law of the universe: What goes around comes around.
The only “positive” elements in this movie are proved by their negatives: truth and trust matter. The yearning for a faithful man shows that that virtue is not dead, even if it’s not consciously acknowledged in the face of a story that simply assumes boyfriends and girlfriends live together and have sex.
The movie opens with a quote from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “Hell is empty. All the devils are here.”—quite apropos of what is about to follow. A woman partially paraphrases Jesus from John 8: “Let he who is without sin ...” One woman speaks about her belief in “destiny.”
Stacy frequently alludes to feeling that God is trying to tell her something. At one point she says, “I hear you God,” but apparently she isn’t really listening. (God had something to say about that in Isaiah 6:9: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.”) In the end, Stacy attempts to put everything in context by saying that it all makes sense “in a cosmic sort of way.” She then looks up to the sky, hands upraised, and says, “I get it, God.”
Stacy is seen wearing a bra and slip while she and Derek playfully kiss on the bed. (He’s fully clothed.) Later, an extended scene shows Stacy wearing only a T-shirt and panties. There are many scenes of women in extremely low-cut dresses or blouses showing a lot of cleavage. Topics on Kippie Kann Do are almost all focused on sex in some form or another: "Is Your Man a Cheating Bastard?" "Hot Hoochie Mamas." "Grandma’s a Hooker." "Penitentiary Porn." "Unnatural Animal Love." A man on the show talks about seeing another “humpin’ on a stripper," and a giant image of a man groping a scantily clad female flashes on the studio screens.
Verbal banter is often loaded with sexual innuendo and jokes. One plays off a woman’s poor grasp of English; her malapropism comes out as an unintentional double entendre. A man says he split with his girlfriend because “they had problems in bed.” She, in turn, brags that they had sex two or three times a day.
An extended gag plays off Stacy visiting a doctor she thinks is a podiatrist for warts, but it turns out she's a gynecologist. The camera watches from above as the gynecological exam takes place. That physician, named Keyes, pushes her book Keyes to Your Vagina.
One of Derek's exes is seen in several photos wearing a thong bikini. A woman talks about French kissing and licking a man. Barb sticks a cell phone set on “vibrate” down the front of her pants, explaining that “it makes me happy” when it rings. A woman says she is proud to have cheated on her boyfriend.
Stacy smashes an answering machine with a hockey stick. A woman is pushed over a coffee table on the Kippie Kann Do set, where some pushing and shoving also takes place. A brief scene at a hockey game shows a hard body-check against the boards (a player being smashed up against the side of the rink).
Crude or Profane Language
The s-word is used several times, as are "h---" and "d--n." Slang terms for sex and those who do it are tossed around. God’s name is abused about a dozen times; Jesus' twice.
Drug and Alcohol Content
One scene takes place in a bar. Despite claiming that each cigarette is her last, Barb is a diehard chain smoker. She also helps herself to a drink at a friend’s apartment.
Other Negative Elements
Several jokes revolve around a flatulent dog. The camera lingers on a man picking his nose, as well on the dog licking himself. There are also many examples of catty insults and gossip among women. Stacy is a frequent and fluent liar.
A super-slim fashion model brags, “I modeled, then I barfed.” Several—sometimes crass—discussions about bulimia ensue. One episode of the Kippie Kann Do show uses midgets as foils.
Little Black Book poses as a morality tale, but director Nick Hurran apparently couldn’t resist redefining morality. At one point in the movie I was somewhat optimistic that viewers could glean a smidgen of a positive lesson when Stacy learns the meaning of comeuppance the hard way. When all her lies and duplicity fly back into her face in a cringe-inducing scene in which she is publicly humiliated, she’s admonished, “You willingly dove head on into the muck. You got what you wanted.”
Unfortunately, by then, viewers are fully immersed in the foul stuff as well, and any positivity is ruined. Stacy sometimes mopes about why she feels so bad doing what she’s doing, but that’s as far as it goes. She never acts on those feelings of guilt. Worse, her “punishment” doesn’t last very long. [Spoiler Warning] Mere months after her humiliation, she attains her dream job and gets to meet the music star of her dreams—without showing much repentance. She confesses more or less only after she’s been caught.
If that's not enough reason to slam this Little Black Book shut, its overarching theme of sex outside of marriage (the M-word is not mentioned once), the foul language, confused morality and winking approval of trashy daytime talk shows should do the trick.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Brittany Murphy as Stacy; Holly Hunter as Barb; Kathy Bates as Kippie Kann; Ron Livingston as Derek; Julianne Nicholson as Joyce; Kevin Sussman as Ira; Josie Maran as Lulu Fritz; Carly Simon makes a cameo appearance as Herself
Nick Hurran ( )