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Jul262009

Review - The Ugly Truth *

The Ugly Truth isn’t very funny. It’s full of lies and boring romantic comedy clichés. Not since Jumper, have I left a movie feeling so supremely jipped.

I realize that a reviewer saying a romantic comedy is full of lies and clichés is a cliché itself. The whole genre is predictable. There are almost always two people on the poster, usually a guy and a girl, and they always fall in love under odd circumstance, have issues, then make up. Only a few films deviate from this script, and they do so with mixed results. The broad clichés don’t necessarily make bad film. The Proposal is ripe with them, but thanks to strong chemistry between its stars (Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds) and a well-used supporting cast (Betty White and Oscar Nunez are hilarious) it has a charm that grows on you. Unfortunately, The Ugly Truth has about as much charm as a farting donkey (no not the one from Shrek). In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if a farting donkey did show up in this crude comedy.

Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler are both talented, but never really hit it off. Heigl plays Abby, a young, attractive, controlling, successful, uptight local TV producer. Wouldn’t yah know it though, she can’t find a good man and the network might cancel her morning news show due to low ratings. The solution to both problems: Mike (Butler).

Mike is a loud, rude, sexist, misogynist that the network hires for a segment called “The Ugly Truth” on Abby’s show. Abby doesn’t like Mike, and she’s right not to, because he’s hella immature, albeit decently entertaining from a distance. In one of Mike’s first segments, he  walks past a romantic dinner set onstage, runs outside the studio, and jumps in a pool of jello with two half-naked wrestling women. The message: guys like hot girls in Jello more than romantic candle-lit dinners. (Really?! What wisdom, Mike!) Despite her objections, Abby plays right into it, telling Mike to suck the Jello off a girl’s finger. This is one of the only times we actually see her be a producer. She spends most of the time trying to get with her hot neighbor.

So Mike is not the next Walter Cronkite, but his sexist attitude slowly starts to win Abby over. She wants to date the hot guy next door, and he helps her become sluttish enough to get the chance.

You can guess where it goes from there. A lot of cussing, butt slapping, and flirting for one. There is a romantic date in the woods, a baseball stadium date, a restaurant orgasm, a falling out of a tree scene, an attractive person’s towel coming off, and a lot of other scenes that were fun in other movies. Here, they just don’t work because there isn’t a lot of truth in the “you gotta be a slut to get a guy” raunchy advice Mike gives Abby. He says early on that he doesn’t believe women are capable of love. If that’s true, why help Abby at all?

Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins, as married co-anchors, provide short bits of actual comedy during transitions. Bree Turner is also charming as Abby’s assistant, Joy, though she doesn’t get much screen time. It’s all Butler, all Heigl, all the time. Exhausting.

Robert Luketic directs. He made Legally Blonde, Monster-in-law, 21, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton as well. And for all it’s misconceptions about gender roles, three women wrote the film, including two from Legally Blonde, The House Bunny, and 10 Things I Hate About You—three movies that are all much better than this one. I can’t imagine what was going through their heads when they wrote it. Too much red wine?

Late in the movie, Mike manages to get on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson and tells Craig that guys should look for lust not love, “because it’s a lot easier and a lot less messy,” Craig responds with a simple question: “So Mike, who screwed you up so badly?” I’d like to ask The Ugly Truth that question. 

Score: 1 out of 5 - Awful (Skip it, unless you liked Jumper)

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