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Review: ‘This Will Only Hurt a Little,’ by Busy Philipps

November 19, 2018

Busy Philipps knows exactly why she chose acting. I think acting was the thing I clung to because I was a part of something, she says in her new memoir, This Will Only Hurt a Little.

Shes known for her supporting work on television (Freaks and Geeks, Cougar Town) and film (White Chicks, I Feel Pretty) and, more recently, her starring role on Instagram Stories, where her fans get a regular dose of Busy unfiltered. Now comes this memoir, timed with the launch of her late night talk show on E!, Busy Tonight.

Her Instagram followers will recognize the Philipps who just puts herself out there, the good, the bad, the falling flat on her face (three dislocated knees). Here I am, everybody! Do you love me? LOVE ME! And its hard not to. (Unless all-caps bothers you. Then you may have issues with this book.)

This Will Only Hurt a Little made headlines before the books release when the story got out about how Freaks star James Franco bullied her on-set. (Among other things, he screamed at her and knocked her to the ground after he didnt like how she did a take.) But take the book as a whole, and thats just one indignity on a long road for an actress making it in todays Hollywood.

Just as jaw-dropping as the Franco story was a more recent confrontation with Modern Family producer Steven Levitan over his cruel put-down after an awards show. Or how her on-again, off-again boyfriend and his brother tried to cheat her out of a story credit for a film she helped write. She got her credit.

Change arrives a little bit at a time. When she noticed how many of the men on Cougar Town were getting a chance to direct, she asked to direct, too. So she did, one episode. Not because she wanted to become a director; it was the principle of the thing.

Philipps, 39, talks frankly about her painful teenage years in Scottsdale, Ariz. date-raped at 14, a terminated pregnancy at 15. And then, unlooked-for, her mom steps up, just when she needs her most.

Flaws? Some parts in the middle drag a bit, and although her ex-boyfriends are an important part of her story, some of them are, well, not all that interesting. (Some names of non-celebrities were changed to protect the innocent, and not-so-innocent.) Also: No photos, other than the cover.

Theres anxiety in Philipps, but theres a lot of fun, too. Her voice is clear, bright and engaging sparkly, to borrow her word. Its earned her a place on the shelf between Tina Feys Bossypants and Amy Poehlers Yes Please.

Casey Common is an editor at the Star Tribune.

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