Little Black Book (2004)

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Released 20-Jun-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-Live & On-Air
Featurette-Be My Guest: Inside Daytime Talk Shows
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Bobby Jones: Stroke Of Genius, Mona Lisa Smile
Trailer-Maid In Manhattan
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 102:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (67:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Nick Hurran
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Brittany Murphy
Holly Hunter
Kathy Bates
Ron Livingston
Julianne Nicholson
Stephen Tobolowsky
Kevin Sussman
Rashida Jones
Josie Maran
Jason Antoon
Sharon Lawrence
Gavin Rossdale
Cress Williams
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Christophe Beck


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Arabic
Bulgarian
Croatian
Czech
Greek
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Polish
Serbian
Slovenian
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One of the many complaints about new films, and in particular romantic comedies, is their lack of originality. They all seem to follow a standard recipe whereby the outcome is pretty much known 10 minutes after the opening credits roll. You know the thing - boy meets girl, boy loses girl after silly bet with mates or realises what a schmuck he is and finally gets girl back after making a fool of himself for 90 minutes. There is seldom anything different in the genre and if the likes of Little Black Book are anything to go by, this lack of originality in the genre is a good thing. This film initially seems to promise much by offering something different, but unfortunately it is at the expense of delivering a truly horrid 100 minutes of viewing with truly unsympathetic, ingratiating characters and a plot so wayward you are sometimes wondering if this film is a satire instead of a rom/com.

    Stacy Holt (Brittany Murphy) has just complete university and, like many young women, is having trouble finding a meaningful relationship. Giving the flick to several promising boyfriends, Stacy finally ends up with Derek (Ron Livingston), a clean cut and generally well-meaning young man who works as a talent scout for an ice hockey team. The pair seem made for each other and romance ensues.

    But Stacy is not completely convinced about Derek and begins to have some doubts about his commitment to her. From here the plot features a fair number of contrivances in order to get the story heading in the direction intended. Stacy lands a job as a producer at a cable television talk show in the mould of Jerry Springer, hosted by Kippie Kann (Kathy Bates in a wasted role), despite having no experience at all. It is here Stacy meets the ambitious and conniving Barb (Holly Hunter). During a meeting to decide what the topic of next week's show will be ("my grandmother was a hooker" is a popular favourite), Stacy is convinced by the scheming Barb to investigate Derek's previous girlfriends by delving into his little black book (or in this day of product placement, a Palm Pilot).

    So Stacy begins to dig the dirt on an unsuspecting Derek (this guy has truly done nothing wrong and deserves so much better). She discovers previous girlfriends, some of who Derek still maintains contact with, which is shock news to Stacy. These former flames include a supermodel, a self-obsessed doctor, and an unassuming chef who get swept up in the grand plan slowly being hatched that all revolves around the trashy day time talk show Kippie Kann Do! The climax is just plain silly and about the only redeeming feature of the story is a startling cameo in the last two minutes.

    Brittany Murphy is as cute as always in this role, but her acting here leaves much to be desired. Her emotional responses to the other actors is so wayward you wonder if you are watching the same actress from scene to scene.

    This really is a truly insipid and horrid film filled with horrible characters doing horrible things. Give me a formulaic rom/com any day of the week over this rubbish. I'd even be prepared to watch a week's worth of trailer trash talk show television - just don't make me watch this again.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a nice and sharp transfer with no real edge enhancement. Shadow detail is handled well, and grain is minimal. There is also no low level noise. The colours are without major problem, but they are also nothing to write home about in terms of vibrancy. At least the blacks are black and the skin tones look pretty good.

    No compression artefacts are present and thankfully there are virtually no instances of other artefacts at all.

    There are plenty of subtitles available for all kinds of languages. The English variety do the job without being 100 per cent accurate.

    This is a single-sided, dual-layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change occurs at 67:00.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack on this disc, being a seldom-seen Dolby Digital 5.0 effort. As a result there is plenty of surround channel use, but the LFE channel remains silent.

    The soundtrack is quite solid and well rounded despite the inclusion of plenty of dialogue. There is ample front left and right speaker use, and frequent songs pop up that are very well produced and sound excellent. Dialogue is fine with no apparent audio sync problems.

    Songs from Carly Simon dominate. When Ms Simon sings them things are fine, but when Ms Murphy has a go (most notably the James Bond classic Nobody Does It Better) things go downhill dramatically.

    There is significant surround use, primarily street sounds and the banter of the talk show audience.



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Featurette- Making Of Live & On-Air

    A purely promotional fluff piece that sees everyone involved with the film congratulating each other on making such a work of art. They obviously hadn't seen the finished product when this was filmed. Avoid watching before the film as it contains several major plot spoilers. Runs for 12:38.

Featurette - Be My Guest: Inside Daytime Talk Shows

    An 11:38 set of interviews with several people involved in roles at real talk shows (primarily Jerry Springer). Mildly interesting but still contains a fair promotional angle for the film.

Theatrical Trailer

    This nicely conceived trailer proves you can make a film look far more interesting in two minutes than it really is.

Trailers

    Bonus trailers for Bobby Jones - Stroke of Genius, Mona Lisa Smile and Maid in Manhattan.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Apart from the inclusion of a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a full frame version of the film, the Region 1 disc appears to be identical to the Region 4.

Summary

    Little Black Book is a truly horrid film. Billed as a romantic comedy, it has no redeeming features despite a high calibre cast.

    The video and audio transfers are excellent, while the bonus material is thankfully limited.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, July 04, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Mike Nichols should sue - Jace