Women save `Black Book'

August 06, 2004|By Phoebe Flowers | Phoebe Flowers,SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

The problem with the average romantic comedy is just how dumb it's likely to be.

This is hardly a secret; Hollywood fortunes have been made by throwing together a cute woman and an unthreatening man and making them deliver a few tired battle-of-the-sexes jokes.

In the rare case that the movie manages to be unconventional in even minor ways, it's something of a triumph.

So, let's hear it for lowered standards, and, by extension, Little Black Book.

Brittany Murphy stars as Stacy, who's got an entry-level job at a Jerry Springer-ish talk show and a cute boyfriend, Derek (Ron Livingston). Unfortunately, he seems more capable of loving his dog than Stacy.

When Derek's out of town, Stacy and older co-worker Barb (Holly Hunter) find his Palm Pilot full of old girlfriends' numbers. Stacy quickly finds herself in dangerous territory.

Much of Little Black Book seems like wasted opportunity and muddled execution. You're kind of left on your own to unearth and absorb the humor - which is absolutely there, often coming in the form of the episode titles of the show on which Stacy works ("Grandma's a Hooker, So Handle It").

But Little Black Book is saved by the chemistry between Murphy and Hunter, who turn out to be far more compelling than Murphy and Livingston.

Things wrap up with a satisfying, if vaguely tawdry, denouement that leaves you grateful the movie was willing to take at least a few chances. In a world of dreary sameness, it's the little things that count.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

Little Black Book

Starring Brittany Murphy, Holly Hunter

Directed by Nick Hurran

Released by Sony/Columbia

Rated PG-13 (sexual content, language)

Time 105 minutes

Sun Score **1/2

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