review for Little Black Book on AllMovie

Little Black Book (2004)
by Derek Armstrong review

Whatever its strengths and weaknesses, Little Black Book cannot be judged by its cover. The film's poster features romantic comedy veterans (Brittany Murphy and Ron Livingston) looking playful, so it should settle comfortably into that niche, right? Uh-uh. Though he's central to the plot, Livingston ends up with less than ten minutes of screen time. His absence leaves the film up for grabs between two other genres: the female-empowerment movie and the media satire. Unfortunately, it's not skillful at either. As the girl-power flick, it owes a ton to Working Girl, in a weirdly upfront way -- Murphy's Stacy likens herself to the Melanie Griffith character, and has the movie poster on her office wall. To heighten the effect, Little Black Book uses nearly every song in Carly Simon's catalogue -- including Working Girl theme "Let the River Run" -- but becomes a bit unfocused because Stacy is just as obsessed with a second female role model: Diane Sawyer. Sawyer is the bridge to the film's media satire component, as Stacy works in the over-parodied realm of Sally Jesse Raphael-style daytime talk shows. Yet more jokes about "midget lesbians" might be easier to swallow if the actors playing the busybody producers weren't so eager to outtalk each other, their light-speed line deliveries more grating than clever. In this last department, Holly Hunter and annoyingly big-haired commercial actor Kevin Sussman are particularly guilty. Director Nick Hurran has an uneasy grasp on this whole slippery monster, making for a scattershot film that ultimately goes down a pretty mean-spirited path. That it contains genuine surprises is usually cause for celebration, since so few films escape their surface-level genre assignments. Unfortunately, Little Black Book might have been a lot better off simple and predictable.