“The Ugly Truth” on repeat (blog)

Category: The Ugly Truth Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: July 24, 2009 | Publication: Star Community Newspapers | Author: Andrew Snyder
Publication/Article Link:http://www.scntx.com/articles/2009/07/26/blogs/whats_new_movie_reviews/39.txt

Ten minutes into “The Ugly Truth” I almost got out of my seat to inform an employee that the wrong movie was playing. This had to be “27 Dresses.” Katherine Heigl is here; her character is a controlling, motivated and loveless woman; and an annoying, cynical media type has shown up to screw things up. This might also be “Knocked Up,” because she’s a producer again. But this isn’t that good. This one’s different, the employee would say, this time the guy is a TV star and not a journalist.

That’s $9 worth of new content.

Petty theft might be an accusation to level at “The Ugly Truth,” but misogyny, which it’s been accused of, has no place here. This film doesn’t hate women, it hates men. Just look at the poster. Gerard Butler, the everyman of “The Ugly Truth,” doesn’t have a heart, just a crotch shaped like one. Not sure how that works out. Playing Mike, the host of a show that screams Spike TV, Butler explains that men are nothing more than a fuel-injected sex drive. He backs this conviction with a vocabulary full of the raunchy, the filthy and the moderately funny. When Mike’s show is picked up by a local station produced by the uptight, perfectionist Abby (Heigl), a firm believer in the ideal man, clashes erupt over the proper approach to love.

Before Mike joined the network ratings were tanking. He takes them to an all time high. This endlessly infuriates Abby. Eventually, she loosens her indignation enough to help improve Mike’s segments. Eventually, Abby allows him to help with her own romancing of the perfect man next door, handsome Dr. Colin (Eric Winter). While it lasts, this teamwork entertains; when Mike is in charge, the movie at least has personality. That’s always been a hallmark of Robert Luketic films, which have a way of being both stock romcom and sneakily unique. While I don’t expect many to agree with Butler’s character, his performance makes me wonder why he’s in so many mediocre films. He delivers his lines with so much charm and swagger that it rarely matters what he’s actually saying. The same can’t be said for Heigl. She never strays from her comfort zone. Once again, she’s the foil to excitement.

The sexual combat at the center of “The Ugly Truth” is the great guilty pleasure, allowing the film to fall into all the lust and deceit that Mike promotes n temporarily. Watching manipulation has a highbrow kind of allure, as actors act to fool other actors. “The Ugly Truth” comes within inches of realizing the everyday quality of acting, how we use it to promote a certain persona, how personality is fluid. But it makes a joke about vibrators instead.

For all the dirty words and innuendo thrown around, “The Ugly Truth” remains neutered. Its respective views on men and women are nothing original, and there’s no edge to a movie that refutes itself. To prove my point I’m going to have to use spoilers, but I hesitate to even warn about that in a movie this predictable. Mike and Abby fall in love, obviously. Not just any kind of love n that true kind Mike has been railing against. The doctor gets dumped. It’s like Mike was playing devil’s advocate just to make the viewer look stupid. Because anytime somebody laughed at one of his jokes or agreed with one of his opinions, they were wrong. The conclusion makes that clear. True love wins and “The Ugly Truth” loses. Not only is the conclusion lazy, infantile and ugly, you can all but taste the green screen, it’s insulting to anyone’s intelligence, stating that you don’t have the moral sophistication to judge on your own.

“The Ugly Truth” is the romantic police, with all the authority and power of a baby Cupid. Three screenwriters n Nicole Eastman, Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah Lutz n couldn’t come up with an original idea. Outside of Butler’s acting and a thinly sliced reminder of “Dangerous Liaisons,” Luketic’s latest has little to recommend. No amount of heart shaped arrows could make me fall for “The Ugly Truth.”

1 out of 4 stars