A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie has strong language, sexual references and situations, humor about genital warts, and a vibrator joke. Disabilities are portrayed as topics for comedy, including eating disorders and people with dwarfism.
What's the story?
Stacy (Brittany Murphy) is a TV producer whose mother (Holly Hunter) thinks that the cure for all heartache is Carly Simon music and whose dream is to work for Diane Sawyer. She gets a job with sleazy syndicated talk-show host Kippie Kann (Kathy Bates), who specializes in topics like "my grandmother is a hooker" and "midgets gone wild." Stacy is living happily with her boyfriend, Derek (Ron Livingston). When he goes away on a business trip, she discovers through his PDA that he's been in touch with three of his old girlfriends without telling her. She contacts them in the guise of interviewing them for Kippie's show and gets into more and more trouble, culminating in a humiliating confrontation broadcast on live television.
Is it any good?
LITTLE BLACK BOOK is a failed attempt at "I Love Lucy"-style hijinks, with a very unlikeable main character. No matter how wacky Lucy was, we always did love her. While Stacy thinks she is adorable (and Murphy clearly thinks so, too), she never gets us on her side. She lies, cheats, and is completely irresponsible with regard to her job. She lies to Derek's ex-girlfriends, telling them she is interviewing them for segments of the television program, but she never in fact seems to do any work at all. She's a nervous wreck over Derek's past and possible present involvement with his exes, but she never stops for a moment to think about what her own commitment is. And the ultimate conclusion is not just illogical, it is nails-on-blackboard-level insincere and condescending. Furthermore, the jokes simply are not funny. There may be a way to find humor in canine digestive problems, out-of-control little people, a gynecological exam, nose-picking, eating disorders, and painfully humiliating betrayals, but not in this movie.
Murphy has shown some quirky charm in supporting roles (Sidewalks of New York and Clueless) but is too insubstantial to hold the screen as a lead. Hunter shows us a glimpse of an intriguingly conflicted character, but she seems to be acting in an entirely different film. Bates is just annoying. The only character in the film with any appeal is the ex-girlfriend who really cares about Derek, played by the lovely Julianne Nicholson.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about he ethics of Stacy's treatment of Derek's ex-girlfriends, her poor judgment in accepting a job she could not feel proud of, and her lack of professionalism in the office.They could also talk about why Barb made the choices she did and, just for laughs, get into a discussion about why people watch television programs like Kippie's.
- In theaters: August 6, 2004
- On DVD or streaming: January 4, 2005
- Cast: Brittany Murphy, Kathy Bates, Ron Livingston
- Director: Nick Hurran
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content/humor and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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