The next ‘Pretty Woman’

Category: The Ugly Truth Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: July 23, 2009 | Publication: Philadelphia Daily News | Author: Gary Thompson
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IN THE LATE 1980s, a young actress named Julia Roberts turned a string of mediocre movies into hits with a dazzling smile and star quality.

Hollywood's been looking for a replacement ever since, and may have found one in Katherine Heigl.

The "Grey's Anatomy" star, who has her own righteous set of choppers, moved to movies with an eye-catching starring debut in "Knocked Up," then brought her audience (like Roberts', it's largely female) to the so-so "27 Dresses."

If her new showcase, "The Ugly Truth," finds an audience, you can thank Heigl and not the script, which pushes what might have been a grown-up movie into territory only slightly less vulgar than "Bruno."

Roberts, it's worth remembering, became a star by playing a hooker and making the job look more wholesome than counter work at Starbucks.

Heigl, on the other hand, plays a crisply efficient television producer in "The Ugly Truth," yet is called upon to don vibrating underwear that yields a five-minute orgasm during a dinner table scene.

The times, they have a-changed.

Being a "good sport" is part of Heigl's movie regimen. She's the with-it, credentialed professional who is unable to find a romance commensurate with her workplace status and endures humiliation as a consequence.

Roberts was a streetwalker, but ended up with a dapper billionaire. Heigl was a successful go-getter in "Knocked Up" who ended up strapped to the unemployed, dope-smoking Seth Rogen. In "27 Dresses," she was literally the bridesmaid, never the bride.

In "The Ugly Truth," her control-freak persona has left her a frigid lonelyheart, so much so that she doesn't know to approach the dreamy doctor (Eric Winter) who's just moved in next door.

Desperate for advice, she turns to her worst enemy - the knuckle-dragging chauvinist TV personality (Gerard Butler) brought in to bump up ratings on her morning show. He promises to help her snare the new guy if she'll agree to bury the professional hatchet someplace besides his head.

The script is crude and obvious, but there is a good idea here - inverting the classic Cyrano de Bergerac story with a gender switch, so that a man falls in love with a woman as he advises her on how to catch another man.

Butler helps the movie a good deal. He's shaved his King Leonidas beard but retained enough of its Spartan stubble and masculine stature to rank here as a suitable adversary (and romantic partner) for Heigl, something she has lacked in previous outings.

Butler and Heigl take some bad lines and turn them into something that may not rise to the level of wit, but at least it doesn't rhyme with it.

Rating: B