MOVIE MARKETING MADNESS: “LITTLE BLACK BOOK”

Orpheus descended into Hades to rescue Eurydice, Luke Skywalker braved the Death Star for his sister and now I have descended into romantic comedy territory to rescue my column from the perils of a computer that won’t install the latest Flash plug-in.

“Little Black Book”… look – I’m not really going to try to provide any meaningful commentary on this one. It stars Brittany Murphy. Let me just say that again: It stars Brittany Murphy. I sat through “Uptown Girls” and have never quite been the same since. Whenever I turn on a movie since then I have a vague fear Murphy and Dakota Fanning are going to pop up. I know it’s irrational, but still I can’t shake it.

The Poster

Brittany Murphy is simply shown heaving her breasts into Ron Livingston, who at this point has got to be tired of waiting for Mike Judge to call with “Office Space 2: Electric Bugaloo”. Murphy is slyly lifting the once and future Peter Gibbons’ PDA from his jacket pocket.

While Murphy may not be the best actress in the world (I actually doubt she’s the best actress in her zip code), I think I speak for most heterosexual men when I say if she were to thrust her breasts in my general direction she could remove my right arm and I wouldn’t notice until she had made a safe getaway.

The Trailer

This may take the award for my least favorite trailer of the year based on two things: 1) The inclusion of Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” over the beginning of the trailer, and 2) The inclusion of Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run”. Sweet Fancy Moses! What are these people thinking? Has the script been hanging around Hollywood so long that these two songs were still popular when the idea was pitched? They couldn’t find anything more recent than, I don’t know, 1989? This was the theme song to “Working Girl” for crying out loud! That was back when Harrison Ford was still able to move around under his own power and Melanie Griffith was one of America’s sweethearts!

Anyway, madcap high jinks ensue as we see the entire plot of the movie over the course of less than three minutes. Murphy and Livingston meet. They fall in love. She begins to be jealous of his ex-girlfriends and uses her position on a TV talk show to “interview” his past flames. I gnaw off my own arm just to have something to beat myself over the head with.

Please keep in mind I had to watch this a few times since I kept lapsing into a coma at various points. I eventually had to have someone standing by to keep me conscious. I am both grateful to as well as never speaking to that person again. That’s too bad, but that’s the price they pay for making me sit through that.

The Website

Covered in a layer of molasses several dozen feet thick, the website shows far more originality than a movie like this deserves.

Profiles of the main cast (including Kathy Bates who I can only assume spent the entire time on the set completely whacked out on smack) as well as some supporting players can be found under the sections “The Couples” and “The Ex-Girlfriends”. These sections are laid out as pseudo-personal ads. The only difference between these people and those who actually advertise in personal ads is, well, these people are attractive and are less likely to cut out your kidneys and leave you in a bathtub full of ice cubes.

Moving on, you can also find entries for the ex-girlfriends on the Friendster website, which is increasingly allowing itself to be the bitch of the major Hollywood studios. You may remember last month there was a controversy when characters from the Will Ferrell comedy Anchorman showed up on Friendster, which prides itself on providing factual information about its listings.

The “Little Black Book” section is a fancy way of saying Downloads. This consists of a half-dozen wallpapers and some AIM Icons, all of which feature Brittany Murphy struggling mightily to convince people she wasn’t cast as the “ugly” one in “Clueless”. Rounding out the site is a nifty little “Polls” section which is cool simply because you get to manipulate a PDA stylus and a “Photo Gallery”.

Oh, one more thing (sorry – I sometimes digress into Peter Falk quotes when I’m sleep deprived). The site also has a “Find Your Ex” feature. You plug in various details about someone who broke your heart and left you an empty shell of a person who was almost unable to open a peanut butter jar without suffering an extreme emotional breakdown and see if you can get back in touch! Cool!!

Actually, this brings up some sort of randomized “story” about your ex by plugging the details you enter into some half-assed scenario. Couldn’t the programmers responsible for this have spent their time playing Solitaire instead of perfecting this piece of horse hockey? We all would have been better off.

Overall

There’s no way around the fact that this is going to appeal to the female crowd tired of a summer of Spider-Man 2 and other action/adventure films or comedies like Anchorman which tend to skew towards males. The campaign isn’t overly original but it doesn’t need to be. Put an empowered female and make her come apart and act like a socially retarded fruit fly and you’re sure to attract the date crowd. Men are advised to drink heavy amounts of wood alcohol in the hopes of incurring blindness.

As moviemaking costs increase, the pressure to successfully market those movies becomes greater. In an attempt to show how marketers are trying to put the most hinders in the theater seats, Chris Thilk breaks down why some movie campaigns work and some don’t. The posters for “The Rocketeer” and “Unforgiven” remain two of his all-time favorites. For Chris’ ongoing movie journal and other various musings, visit his Random Thoughts blog.




Posted on August 4, 2004 in Features by

Buffer


If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
Popular Stories from Around the Web

Tell us what you're thinking...





Comments are governed by the Terms of Use of this Site. Click on the "Report Comment" link if you feel a comment is in violation of the Terms of Use, and the comment will be reviewed appropriately.