Little Black Book US Theatrical Release: August 6, 2004 (Columbia - TriStar) US DVD Release: January 4, 2005 Running Time: 1:46:35 (The time code runs to 1:51:04, but the disc stops and returns to the menu at 1:46:35) (28 chapter stops) Rating: PG-13 (Sexual Content/ Humor And Language) Video: The case states 2.40:1 Anamorphic, but the actual image is closer to 2.15:1; 1.33:1 Fullscreen (Extra Features: 1.33:1 Fullscreen) Audio: English DD5.1, French DD2.0 (Extra features: English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French (Extra Features: None) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None) Menus: Lightly animated and skippable. Packaging: Standard single-disc keepcase; single-sheet insert contains cover images from other titles on one side and some stills from this film on the other. MSRP: $26.96 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2/5 Brittany Murphy seems to have carved out a nice little niche for herself in the high-concept light romantic comedy genre. And while she may not be a critical darling, she does have her audience. Little Black Book, the story of a young woman discovering the fun and foibles of romance, is aimed squarely at that audience. Stacey Holt (Murphy) is a young professional, working her way into the world of television production. Her dream has always been to work with Diane Sawyer, but for the moment, she takes a job as an associate producer at a trashy daytime talk show. The show is hosted by Kippie Kann (played by Kathy Bates, who has seen better material), a veritable font of lame alliterative gags. Stacey is taken under the wing of Barb Campbell-Dunn (Holly Hunter – also having seen better material), a woman slightly more experienced with talk show production and quite a bit more experienced with men. The producers meet to brainstorm show topics, and before long, the idea of the proverbial “little black book” comes up. Coincidentally, Stacey discovers that her boyfriend Derek (Ron Livingston – you guessed it; have you seen Band Of Brothers?) once dated famous supermodel Lulu Fritz (Josie Maran – whether Van Helsing counts as “better material” depends on one’s personal preference of genre), and her gossipy co-workers convince her that further investigation is required. The next plot-advancing discovery is that Derek has gone off on a business trip and has left his PDA behind. The PDA contains all sorts of interesting information about Derek’s ex-girlfriends, much of it photographic, if you know what I mean, say no more, say no more. Under the guise of interviewing them as guests for the show, Stacy proceeds to meet and interrogate some of Derek’s exes. Minor hilarity ensues as her deception leads to a number of tricky situations. Of course, she learns a few things that she may regret knowing in the end. It all comes to a head when the tables are turned on Stacy and she comes to a few realizations about herself. You know the drill. Little Black Book gets credit for trying to do things a little bit differently from the standard formula, but it doesn’t always succeed. It ends up heading in an unusual direction, but for the most part, the sits are contrived and the com merely evokes chuckles. Still, it’s a harmless way to pass a couple of hours. The cast is top-notch, and for the most part, it won’t insult the intelligence of the audience. THE WAY I SEE IT: 2/5 Once again, Sony has decided to squeeze both widescreen and fullscreen versions of a film onto a single DVD-9. 214 minutes worth of data for a 107-minute movie. To be honest, compression artifacts are not too bad, considering the low video bitrate. The hardware did a decent job, but worked harder than it should have had to. The picture is reasonably sharp, showing a fair amount of film grain. Edge enhancement is pervasive. On the plus side, it is for the most part lightly applied, so the EE halos are not too thick. Close inspection reveals that it is pretty much always present. Black levels are respectably deep, but the colors are a little bit strange. Something about them is not quite right – I’m not sure whether the film was intentionally processed to look this way, or whether the makeup staff got overly creative, but skin tones are often unnaturally oversaturated and purplish. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5 The audio track is pedestrian, but adequate. There’s not a lot of surround or LFE activity, but this is pretty much a dialogue-driven film. That said, the dialogue is always clear and the music is mixed at the right level. The rears add a little atmosphere to scenes involving crowds of people, such as TV tapings and a hockey game, and the music, while mostly up front, subtly uses the rears to immerse the listener. Carly Simon fans will enjoy the liberal dose of Simon tunes that pepper the soundtrack, as well as a special treat at the end of the movie. THE SWAG: 2/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Featurettes: Two featurettes are included. They are not anamorphic. Live & On-Air: The Making Of Little Black Book: (12:37) Cast and crew chat their way through a fairly standard promo piece. They have a handful of interesting things to say amidst the film clips and compliment exchanges. Be My Guest: Inside Daytime Talk Shows: (11:12) A number of producers from real-life daytime talk shows (most of them from The Jerry Springer Show) dish the dirt about what goes on behind the scenes. It’s just talking heads, interspersed with a few clips from the feature, but it’s worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of those programs. Trailers: Five trailers are included. No trailer is included for Little Black Book itself. Note that the trailer for Are We There Yet? is anamorphic and has DD5.1 audio. The trailer for Are We There Yet? plays automatically upon inserting the disc, but may be skipped. Are We There Yet? (2:32) Mona Lisa Smile (DVD) (0:17) Maid In Manhattan (DVD) (0:17) 13 Going On 30 (DVD) (0:17) The Forgotten (0:32) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 2/5 The Way I See It: 2/5 The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5 The Swag: 2/5 In the words of my trusty sidekick and fiancée, Lucy, “Why did they send you a movie like this? It’s for women!” Little Black Book is a fairly run-of-the-mill chick flick, although it’s played straighter than the wacky trailers implied that it would. It does try to rise above the material, with some relatively insightful things to say about relationships, so it isn’t exactly mindless. The story is told, however, from an entirely female perspective. I doubt that many guys will watch it other than as a date requirement. At least it will buy them a nice action movie for next time (or, for the ladies, make up for the last action flick).