6.29.2010

REVIEW: Little Black Book (Nick Hurran, 2004)

Back when Little Black Book's ad campaign was ramping up, I honestly thought the mainstream romantic comedy - about a girl digging up dirt through her boyfriend's Palm Pilot - looked like the worst film of the year. I was closed-minded about star Brittany Murphy and, being fresh off a viewing of Thirteen and still youthfully enamored with Office Space, hated the idea of Holly Hunter and Ron Livingston supporting what looked to be the fluffiest piece of fluff since the previous year's excruciatingly fluffy Alex & Emma. To my happy surprise, I was very wrong.

This charming and refreshingly formula-defying gem creates its own little world and charms with clever, super-rapid-fire dialogue from multi-dimensional players. Beyond that, it actually has the cojones to maintain a flawed protagonist while allowing characters less reputable from a surface level to impart the wisdom. Altogether it provides a bold - if not completely foolproof - critique of popular romantic cinema while successfully practicing what it preaches. I hesitate to draw such a parallel, but one could possibly call the flick a lighter, narrower version of what Charlie Kaufman was so brilliantly saying with Adaptation.

Murphy shines in the lead, showcasing various talents. Roger Ebert was spot-on when he compared her open vivaciousness to Lucille Ball's and, in his review of the very film in question, her allure to Marilyn Monroe's "ability to draw our eyes to her segment of the screen, even when the action is ostensibly elsewhere."

This is that special type of movie you enjoy not only for its content but for the fun the cast and crew seem to have had producing it - the fun you can't help but long to be a part of. It is not your typical, manufactured money-grab as all signs initially lead to. It may not be entirely memorable, but it prospers in its moment. It is the Subway to, say, Catch & Release's McDonald's. Here's hoping, just as I hope for Nancy Pimental after her hilariously endearing work on The Sweetest Thing, writer Melissa Carter eventually pulls out the keyboard for another buoyant, cinematic outing.

2 comments:

  1. Little Black Book was Melissa Carter's first film. So underrated - I'm glad you enjoyed it and got more perspective on Murphy as well, Mod!

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  2. Woo, my first comment since 2007 (unless you count the spam my 2010: The Year We Make Contact got)... thanks Viv!! Good recommendation.

    ReplyDelete

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