Guilty Pleasures: Little Black Book
By Felix Quinonez Jr.
May 2, 2012
Let’s face it. Whether we’re talking about movies, music, books or whatever, we all think we have great taste. Because we only see things from our own perspectives, we usually use our personal tastes as a way to judge quality.
But even so, we all have our guilty pleasures. I’m talking about that song you stop humming when someone walks into the room. Or maybe it’s that movie you claim your significant other dragged you to. Whatever the case, we all have guilty pleasures and that includes me, of course. With this column I’m going to try to encourage people to stop being embarrassed for liking things they normally wouldn’t or that aren’t considered cool. I’m going to do this by celebrating movies that are my personal guilty pleasures.
Up first is Little Black Book, (2004) starring the late Brittany Murphy. A lot of times, the person you’re with can affect how you feel about an experience. I bring this up because I saw this movie with a girl that I happened to have a crush on at the time. If it weren’t for her, I probably would never have watched this movie and definitely not at a theater.
That being said, I re-watched Little Black Book on DVD - it was a gift, I swear - before writing this column. It’s been years since I last saw this movie but I have to admit, I still enjoyed it. I could credit this all to nostalgia - and there is some of that - but the fact is; it’s a pretty fun movie.
The movie was definitely not a critical darling. Rottentomatoes.com indicates that out of 109 reviewers only 23 wrote something good about it. This gives it a 21% rating; it drops to 16% when you look at the “top critics.” This was the consensus; an obnoxious, awkward mix of romantic comedy and reality show satire.
The movie is about Stacy’s (Murphy) journey as she discovers that perhaps she doesn’t know her boyfriend as well as she thought. She is starting a new job as an associate producer of a Jerry Springer style talk show based out of New Jersey. Kathy Bates plays the talk show host, Kippie Kann. Her boyfriend, Derek (Ron Livingston) is a talent scout for the Devils and is about to leave on a business trip for a few days.
Before leaving, he and Stacy happen to see a model on TV who Derek used to date. This forces Stacy’s insecurities to the surface. When Derek leaves, Stacy’s coworkers convince her to “look under the hood,” or investigate Derek’s dating history. As luck would have it, Derek forgot his palm pilot at home. She is talked into going through the numbers and contacting a few of Derek’s ex-girlfriends. Stacy reluctantly agrees and interviews each girl under the guise of preparing a segment for them on the show. But she is actually finding out about their relationships with Derek and more importantly; why it ended.
Much to her surprise, she eventually strikes up a genuine friendship with one of these girls. But if you’ve ever seen a movie before, you can probably guess that at one point Stacy’s ruse will be revealed.
Movies like this really depend on the lead actors’ performances to succeed. Because the plots are usually so thin, it falls on the actors to make the viewer overlook superficial stories or big gaps in logic. In this case, Stacy is introduced as a hardworking, career-minded individual. She even – coldly - ends a long term relationship because she believed it wasn’t “logical” to commit herself to this person. She does have second thoughts but sticks to her decision. But after seeing of one of Derek’s ex-girlfriends, Stacy acts like an insecure 15-year-old girl. At first this really bothered me and I was ready to write off the movie right there but Murphy gives a charming performance. She injects the character with a wide eyed innocence that keeps the movie afloat. Although Stacy’s sudden transformation still doesn’t ring true, because of Murphy’s endearing performance, it is easy to forgive the lack of logic.