The Ugly Truth

Category: The Ugly Truth Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: July 24, 2009 | Publication: Baltimore City Paper | Author: Emma Brodie
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The Ugly Truth is the story of Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl, more a good sport than a good actress), an anal-retentive television producer for a struggling Sacramento morning show, and Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler, charming and unmemorable), the chauvinist correspondent brought in to boost ratings with his relationship call-in segment, “The Ugly Truth.” Their initial personality clash quickly evolves into a friendship as Mike saves not only the show, but Abby’s floundering personal life, helping her win a date with a dreamboat doctor just in time to realize that he has feelings for Abby himself. After that, it isn’t long before Mike and Abby confront each other with the ugly truth: that they are meant for each other.

Don’t let the formulaic nature of the plot throw you off; Ugly is full of surprises—specifically, how low the writers are willing to sink to get a laugh. The script's few intelligent and insightful moments are buried under tired Mars-and-Venus stances and crass dialogue aimed at cheap laughs (including more than 10 butt slaps, 22 blow-job references, two jello wrestling twins, and one accidental orgasm over a business dinner). Perhaps the most surprising thing about Ugly is that the team responsible for this catastrophe includes Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, the same people who once created Legally Blonde.

Indeed, writers Nicole Eastman, Lutz, and Smith seem to have had just one objective in mind when they conceptualized this movie: They wanted a hit. They desperately borrowed material from other moneymakers of the last five years—ranging from 30 Rock (Abby is a combination of Barbie and an un-funny Liz Lemon while Mike is a younger, less ambitious Jack Donaghy) to Sherry Argov’s self-help book Why Men Love Bitches to Wedding Crashers. The result is like water made from a formula in a lab; unnatural and tasteless.

Apart from the cringingly raunchy humor, Ugly's real failing is Abby, who has absolutely no redeeming features. She's a 100 percent caricature spinster, equipped with cat, knitting needles, and a 10-item personal checklist for dates. While Mike is in every way the burned-and-bitter-macho archetype, he at least has a soft spot for his nephew that stands as an attempt to round out his character. Abby’s one-dimensional personality is shallow, and drags Mike down with her, because all he could possiblly see in her are her looks. The real ugly truth here is that this movie is far from a must-see.