More “Ugly” than “Truth” in this non-rom-com
Good luck finding much “truth” in this comedy where the pervasive and jarring blue banter isn’t even the ugliest element. Kathleen Heigl is still trying to carve out a post-”Grey’s Anatomy” niche and Gerard Butler wants to prove he can handle lighter fare, but both are undone by a clich?d “opposites attract” formula that does more to set back the women’s movement than a room full of aging Republicans ever could.
Who wouldn’t want to see the curvaceous Heigl and hunky Butler on screen together? But great scripts aren’t built on expectations, and “The Ugly Truth” doesn’t flatter either star. Implausibly, the story creates two such loathsome characters that even after 100 minutes we still don’t care about them.
The film can’t even muster a “they deserve each other’ sentiment.
Heigl plays Abby, a “control freak” morning show producer who’s so tightly wound she brings talking points on dates, yet is confused by her inability to succeed with men. Enter the boorish pig Mike (Butler), who is having huge success on his own cable show telling women the ‘truth” about the simplicity of men-something that on the surface would seem to please even Dr. Laura.
The problem? We all know it’s not that simple. Abby can’t possibly be so clueless as to believe that her unhappiness is all her own fault and that she must lower herself in order to attract even a nice, educated, good looking doctor next door (Eric Winter). And as talented as Butler is, and even trying to disguise (poorly) his Scottish brogue, he can still turn a comic phrase. Mike is a lout and we wouldn’t want him to fall in love, anyway.
This might have been tolerable if the script had something genuinely funny or insightful to say about relationships. (Beyond the obvious, that is-men like good looking women, duh!) But from the sidekick characters, towel-dropping scenes, to a woefully clich?d hot dog eating display, everything here feels tired and is directed with the subtlety of a vibrating panty gag. Yes, the film features one of those as well, and it might be the pinnacle of this film’s humor. (Reminiscent of Meg Ryan’s restaurant scene in “Harry Met Sally” for sure, but without the female character’s motivation being to prove her absolute control of her sexual power.)
Apparently, over the last 20 years sharp, successful women in romantic comedies have learned that men just love a beautiful woman who knows how to humiliate herself. (See “The Proposal” for more proof. Or don’t.)
In the end, Mike learns the sad truth about himself, which is almost poignant. Abby learns she can love a guy for who he is, even though tomorrow he will likely still be the guy who thinks women are to be conquered, not adored.
Apparently, the ugly truth is that neither sex needs or deserves respect. How romantic.
The “Sex and the City” gals would be proud.
Rated “R” Rated R for sexual content and language.
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