THE UGLY TRUTH
Columbia Pictures/ Lakeshore Entertainment
Reviewed for MovieWeb by Harvey Karten
Directed by: Robert Luketic
Written By: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith, story by Nicole Eastman
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, John Michael Higgins, Nick Searcy
Screened at: AMC Empire, NYC, 7/20/09
Opens: July 24, 2009
Google “men dating” and you’ll find a few pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs by digital Romeos and electronic Casanovas, all calling on followers to act in certain ways to get all the women you want. “Brylcreem, a little dab will do ya” was the commercial that reminded us to use a pea-size application of the gooey hair tonic to seduce women, but since then everyone with internet capabilities has his own ideas. One such counsel for those who want romantic relationships: never give a woman advice. It would not be long before she’ll say, “Let’s be friends.”
Mike (Gerard Butler) is one such advisor, one who would gasp and be overcome with depression if any woman ever said that to him. A womanizer par excellence who, during the course of Robert Luketic’s “The Ugly Truth” manages to attract every woman who meets his eyes, Mike has run a successful TV show called “The Ugly Truth” in which he tells women that “all men are simple…don’t try to change us…we’re incapable of making progress.” In the fashion of romantic comedies like this one, his advice is subverted by The One, while the target of his affection, Abby (Katherine Heigl) turns miraculously from control freak to absolute putty.
In showing how two people with polar opposite personalities ultimately meet in the middle, Luketic, using a script by Nicole Eastman, Karen McCuillah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, exhibit Abby (Katherine Heigl) a Sacramento, California TV news producer as a control freak, one who thereby has little success with men and even less good fortune with the dismal ratings for her show. When her boss brings Mike into the news program to boost ratings, given Mike’s own success with “The Ugly Truth,” Abby is at first appalled but quickly, and without much credibility, turns to him for advice. Mike obliges, guiding Abby like a modern Cyrano de Bergerac through her courtship with a young, handsome orthopedic surgeon (Eric Winter), who checks off beautifully on Abby’s 10-point mental rating sheet as a boy friend and perhaps life’s partner. Though a beautiful woman, Abby seems not only incapable of getting dates on her own without advice, but must rely on Mike’s hackneyed cues to 1) keep the guy on telephone hold to see whether he will hang up or stay on, 2) hang up on him to see whether he calls back.
Though Abby looks in her early twenties (Heigl is 30), could she be that naïve and unpracticed that she must rely on such sophomoric counsel, which includes such homilies in the stands of a baseball game to “put the hot dog slowly into your mouth?” To further Abby’s hunt for men, the ever-mindful Mike sends her a present of vibrating panties which does what they’re supposed to do during a dinner with the TV program’s corporate sponsors, leading to a predictably vulgar and less than amusing presentation to the suits.
Early on, Abby climbs a tree to bring down her pet cat, landing upside down on a branch. The doctor, living next door, interrupts his shave to rescue her and to meet cute, his own pants falling to the floor leaving him wholly exposed to her. Luketic moves into Judd Apatow country without originality, pushing Heigl to act embarrassingly over-the-top throughout, talking fast, talking dirty. Seeking humor, the film is instead an embarrassment. Heigl has done better with “Knocked Up,” given Judd Apatow’s surer hand, while Gerard Butler, his mellifluous voice exploited splendidly in Joel Schumacher’s “The Phantom of the Opera,” is reduced to the level of Zack Snyder’s laughable action pic, “300.” Given the amateurish direction at work in this movie, the cat is the best performer: need I say more?
Rated R. 101 minutes. © 2009 by Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online