The Ugly Truth

Category: The Ugly Truth Reviews | Posted by: stagewomanjen
Article Date: August 6, 2009 | Publication: Planet Weekly | Author: Editor
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"Legally Blonde" director Robert Luketic's latest movie "The Ugly Truth” qualifies as the ideal date movie. This giddy, lightweight, battle-of-the-sexes, romantic comedy about polar opposites pitted against each other, Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl, has chemistry to burn, and the chemistry is incendiary! Mind you, the narrative conceit of opposites attracting is as ancient as the Harold Lloyd silent comedy "Girl Shy" (1924) and "The Ugly Truth" is just as predictable. Recent examples of similar romantic comedies include "What Women Want," "Maid in Manhattan," "Failure to Launch," "Sweet Home Alabama," and "You've Got Mail." Nevertheless, the Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, and Kristin Smith screenplay works like a charm, particularly because the leads, Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl, play such charismatic characters. Butler displays a genuine knack for comedy, while Heigl shows no shame when she makes a buffoon of herself. Indeed, Heigl acted as an executive producer, and that is saying a lot after you see the hilarious scenes at the baseball park and in the restaurant.

Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl of "27 Dresses") is a smart, capable, good-looking, blonde television producer of a local Sacramento morning talk show with less-than-spectacular ratings. She is also controlling and manipulative and hasn't been on an exciting date for eleven months. In other words, she's got man problems, the kind of man problems that mean she doesn't have a man around when she needs him. Abby and her assistant Joy (Bree Turner of "Joe Dirt") do research on every guy that our heroine dates. When she goes out on a date, Abby has already run a background check on the guy. Furthermore, she comes with a list of topics to discuss in case the conversation dries up. Predictably, at the end of an evening, Abby winds up walking herself back to her apartment.

Abby is about to go to sleep when her cute pet cat D'Artagnan mashes the remote control and changes the channel to a 'live' public access cable program called "The Ugly Truth." Abby cannot believe her ears as the unshaven chauvinistic male host sets fire to three bestsellers about dating and relationships in a barbecue grill. Mike Chadaway (Gerard Butler of "300") epitomes the typical, politically incorrect, shock-jock host who speaks plainly about men, women, and sex. According to Mike, men hate to hear about a gal's problems, they only want oral sex. Abby phones him up and informs him that men are sensitive, too. When he asks her about her current boyfriend, she lapses into silence. Mike labels her 'Lassie' and cuts her off.

The next morning at work, Abby is shocked when her boss, Stuart (Nick Searcy of "Runaway Jury"), announces that he has hired Mike Chadaway to boost their sagging ratings. Initially, Abby hates the idea, but she perseveres. Stuart, who fears for Abby's job and his son's college tuition, persuades Abby to give Mike a chance. Not surprisingly, Mike wins them high ratings. Abby tells him about her next door neighbor, Colin (Eric Winter of the soaper "Days of Our Lives"), an orthopedic surgeon with a body like a Chippendale dancer. Mike bets her he can show her how to win the guy or he'll quit the show. Abby agrees and Mike begins what looks like the modern day equivalent of "Pygmalion." Mike takes Abby out to buy new outfits, longer hair, and tells her to stop behaving like a psycho control freak. He teaches Abby how to hang up on a guy and know if he is going to call back. Abby is flabbergasted when everything that Mike tells her to do works. Mike's magic not only works on Abby, but also the couple that hosts Abby's morning talk show, Georgia (Cheryl Hines of "Along Came Polly") and Larry (John Michael Higgins of "Yes Man") who having been hitting off lately. Basically, they are unhappily married because she earns more money and she won't let him be the man.

Eventually, all the coaching that Mike gives Abby and their constant bickering with each other takes a toll of their at-arms-length relationship and the ice cracks in ways that you wouldn't expect. Mike is being courted by the networks and he gets an audition on the "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson." Of course, the network loves Mike's personality and he is tempted. Abby and he step on an elevator and things change.

Although this harmless fluff carries an R-rating, "The Ugly Truth" is clever, frivolous, borderline crude but lacks nudity. Sure, some of the subject matter and the language might prove offensive, but this guy-wants-gal, guy-loses-gal, and guy-gets-gal back is infectiously entertaining stuff without a mean-spirit to be found anywhere in its trim 96-minutes. If "The Hangover" was a good way to get the summer cranked up with a comedy, then "The Ugly Truth" is a great way to wrap it up with laughs galore.