MOVIE REVIEW- Love and laughs: <i>Ugly Truth </i>funny, trite
Actress Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up) and director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) must have had a positive experience making The Ugly Truth because they've already shot another film together, Five Killers.
Whether watching The Ugly Truth will be as positive an experience for you depends on how easily you're amused. (Yes, I laughed quite a bit.) It has crowd-pleasing scenes that made me feel embarrassed for crowds, but if you found The Proposal too credible and sophisticated, this may be the romantic comedy for you.
Abby Richter (Heigl), who intellectualizes love, has been searching for a man who fits her 10-point checklist and is attracted to her. Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) may have believed in love once, but now he's reduced it to a simple physical act and is only looking for beautiful women who share his philosophy– or lack of one.
They're obviously a match made in rom-com heaven, if they can only get together. That's no problem for three screenwriters who have no shame when it comes to contrivances.
Abby produces Sacramento A.M., a ratings-challenged TV show. Mike is on public access with The Ugly Truth, a talk show where he waxes macho, a cross between a caveman and a male chauvinist pig. Abby discovers him accidentally when her cat (who's in the movie so there can be a "pussy" joke) steps on the remote and changes channels. She calls in and they have an on-air argument.
The next morning Abby goes to work and learns Mike, whom she considers "an über-moron who represents everything that's wrong with society," has been hired as "guest commentator" to shake things up. They spar a little, and she goes home and meets her new neighbor, Colin (Eric Winter), an orthopedic surgeon. In the "meet cute" tradition on steroids, Abby rescues her cat from a tree (the other reason for the cat being in the movie) outside the window where Colin's preening in a bath towel. Yes, Abby and the towel both fall.
Soon Mike is coaching Abby in how to win Colin, who's a 10 on her Richter scale. He gives her a makeover– not in a gay way– and teaches her not to be a "psycho-aggressive control freak." Since she'll eventually have to be herself for the man who can appreciate her, it confuses the issue when we get an early peek at her giddy, girly side.
The "Cyrano" scene at a baseball game is clumsily written and staged, and had the preview audience falling out of their chairs. Ditto a scene involving vibrating panties (I had to look it up– they really exist!) that tries to outdo the fake orgasm from When Harry Met Sally.
Mike and Abby warm to each other as quickly as his presence raises her show's ratings. Their mutual attraction is so obvious they shouldn't be surprised when it manifests itself after they dance together at a Latin night club.
At the same time things are going well between Abby and Colin, but if you don't know who she'll wind up with you've been too busy texting and not paying attention.
The Ugly Truth will probably be considered a date movie, but you won't want to try out any of the moves it teaches– they're all wrong.
R-rated comedies are in vogue, and The Ugly Truth hopes to catch some spillover from The Hangover. The difference is that this is more of a women's picture. It has the crudeness of Sex and the City but not the maturity.
Heigl shows again she's willing to do anything for a laugh, and she does it well enough. Butler combines the machismo he showed in 300 with the romantic flair he didn't show in P.S. I Love You. As a couple, they're as believable as anything else about The Ugly Truth.