The Ugly Truth
A stale yet somewhat pleasant romantic comedy, The Ugly Truth is built around a well-known and widely accepted stereotype – the one that says males are only in it for the sex and the females are slaves to their emotions. (500) Days of Summer tries to tell us otherwise, but that is beside the point. The Ugly Truth stars Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, two attractive pieces of meat that usually aren’t very appealing as actors but here create a pair of perfectly watchable caricatures.
Abby (Heigl) and Mike (Butler) are producer and star of a local news segment called The Ugly Truth where Mike straight talks to his viewers about the nasty underbelly of relationships. There is also Colin (Eric Winter), Abby’s beefcake neighbor who happens to meet all ten of her “requirements” for a mate. Together the three of them spend much of the film engaged in bickering, politicking, and posturing, while moving through a plot that is both archaic in style and lacking in substance. Since the target audience is decidedly female, the main villain here is not a person but rather Mike’s idea that good relationships do not exist. That way the audience can safely boo and hiss him right up until the sugary sweet conclusion where we learn that males have every bit as much a capacity to be moved by their emotions.
While buying into Mike’s transformative arc is a stretch, buying into anything Katherine Heigl does almost requires detachable limbs. Since showing up on Hollywood’s doorstep with her prototypical bronzed body she has been inexplicably declared a star even though she has no discernable acting ability. Here she once again relies on her adorable cheekbones to deflect attention from her flat delivery. More exciting are the small roles given to some of our friends from HBO. Cheryl Hines plays an old school local news anchor whose relationship goes from cold to scorching once Mike gets his hands on it. And in one extremely funny scene Kevin Connolly plays Abby’s blind date who gets devoured alive by her control freak quirks.
There is a real sense here that the script was written by some machine in a Hollywood basement, as no cliché is too dry and crusted to pass up. Hopefully we can soon declare a moratorium on all scenes in which one person awkwardly coaches another through a date via an earpiece. A goofball scene where Abby is placed at a corporate meeting in vibrating underpants that leave her in a state of perpetual orgasm is far more successful at generating some laughs.
The comedy in the film often lands, but is more a series of well-timed jabs as opposed to full on uppercuts. The Ugly Truth is a peaceful experience in the theatre that harms nobody, but is in no way memorable as a movie, despite the climax being undoubtedly the best part. With Mike attempting to land a gig elsewhere, Abby and her station have no choice but to replace him with a guy who, in true comic fashion, winds up being even worse. There is also an underlying criticism of local news at work here that adds a little bit of depth to a film that is otherwise ankle deep. It’s not quite good enough to warrant a recommendation but it wouldn’t be a total waste of your money either.
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Cheryl Hines, Bree Turner
Director: Robert Luketic
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Runtime: 96 minutes