Published on December 5th, 2006 | by The Beige Baron


Little Black Book

When my missus and I visit the video store for supplies, we generally pick a few weeklies each. Last Sunday I opted for a brace of Deep Space 9 Star Trek videos.

She rented a brace of possibly the worst movies ever — Swept Away, starring Madonna (I couldn’t watch) — and Little Black Book, starring the insufferable Britney Murphy and that actress from Texas with a cleft palate . Is it Holly Hunter? Jesus she shits me. I’d like to get her and Heath Ledger in a movie together. Nobody could understand what the fuck was going on.

It wasn’t such a bad premise for a bog-standard romantic comedy. Girl goes to big city to fulfill dream and meet perfect man, meets perfect man, becomes suspicious of perfect man, ruins relationship, loses job, has personal revelation, cue happy ending and a moment to pause for a neat narrated summary of lessons learned.

In this case, the top-and-tailer was: ‘How does a girl fall down a rabbit hole with her eyes wide open and come out the other side the same girl? Answer: she doesn’t. I am that girl. To begin with my story, I need to go back to my first day at work. No, wait, to do this properly it all started…’

I mean, for fuck’s sake. Who writes this shit, a sixth grader? Obviously, seeing as it committed the movie-making cardinal sin of totally unnecessary narration from the main character, chipping in all the time just in case you missed the bleeding obvious. The script, my friends, was horrifically bad.

This abortion might have scraped up a bit better than the 20 per cent average review rating it got at Rotten Tomatoes (Swept Away got 5 per cent… ha ha ha ha) had it been spared Brittany Murphy’s acting performance. Within about three minutes I was seething with hatred for this truly nauseating bulemic creature. She spent the entire 80 minutes rolling her eyes, making wry faces, doing breathtakingly irritating little dances, getting caught in ironic situations, singing Carly Simon tunelessly at the top of her voice and acting with bile-inducing coquettish innocence.

If there was an Overacting-O-Meter, the needle would have broken the stopper peg, spinning uncontrollably around the dial before catching on fire and disappearing in the rancid, cloying stench of gosh-aren’t-I-a-ditz cutesiness. Even a fluffy pink rabbit with big blue eyes and a pink ribbon in its hair would have been scrabbling adorably for a revolver to stick in its rosepetal mouth.

In one scene, while trying to keep pace with side-mouth-mutterer clothespeg old stick Holly Hunter, Murphy was actually gallumphing sideways with oh-so-cute un-selfconscious awkwardness, like little kids do when their mums walk too fast and they are demanding lollies before the harrassed parent makes it through the checkout.

She also danced and/or posed in her undies no less than 10 times for no reason.

Murphy’s character, a sweet only-child girl of 20 with talent, grit, determination but a soft-centre of caramel sweetness and vulnerability, was the epitome of pure evil.

The movie is groaning along like a broken-down Cadillac with a wheel falling off, sparks flying from the tailpipe sagging on the road, when the director changes his mind about the whole romantic-comedy angle, having failed to raise a spark of romantic chemistry between the actors, and not a single laugh either. So, abruptly, he tries for black-comedy satire.

Lampooning the Jerry Springer genre is about as easy as spraying insects with Mortein. Stank nearly as bad in this movie, too. They tried everything to raise a laugh… monkeys, women with implants, midgets… it was all such a self-conscious groan from beginning to end. The patronising ‘satire’ component of the film served as the ‘clever’ subplot to Murphy’s character resorting to subterfuge and deception, using her TV producer status, to unravel her boyfriend’s sexual past.

But no matter who played Murphy’s role, the script was so shitty and the characters so unlikable and uninteresting that this plane would have still crashed into the mountain. The Murphy factor just made the scene of the disaster that much more horrific. And, another pet hate of mine, this first-time rookie producer doesn’t even pretend to do any work during this movie, yet she is not harrassed by management once. I hate that.

This was truly painful, and I have sat through some absolute stinkers in this genre. What can I tell you, it’s a guilty pleasure. But after this experience, I’m gonna steer clear of anything with Murphy’s name on the poster.

A horrendous experience.

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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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