By Matt Brunson
THE UGLY TRUTH
DIRECTED BY Robert Luketic
STARS Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler
Look, it's only fair. If impressionable frat boys can enjoy The Hangover this summer and impressionable teenagers can enjoy Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, then why not give impressionable women their own imbecilic film? An abhorrent romantic comedy, The Ugly Truth is so inept and ill-conceived on so many levels that mandatory sterilization seems to be the only punishment suitable for everyone involved in this mess. We probably wouldn't want these folks breeding like rabbits.
In a typically bad performance consisting primarily of exaggerated reaction shots, Katherine Heigl (also serving as executive producer) plays Abby, a TV news producer who's also a frigid control freak loved only by her cat. Into her world enters Mike (Gerard Butler), a chauvinist whose cable access show (The Ugly Truth) gets absorbed into Abby's news program in an effort to boost ratings. Mike's segment, in which he claims that men can't be taught anything once they pass toilet training and that there's no such thing as a romantic male, offends Abby, but eventually she finds herself turning to Mike for help on how to land her hottie neighbor, Colin (Eric Winter). He's only too happy to assist her, until he begins to fall for this pill himself.
It's inconceivable that a movie with such an unsympathetic female lead was written by three women; is it stepping out of line to suggest that they themselves must possess low-self-esteem issues or, at the very least, subscribe to the GOP vision of a woman's place in the world? (Tellingly, the most right-wing critic on Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 10 out of 10, stating that "every guy should drag his girlfriend/wife to this movie (not necessarily by the hair)" and that Mike "makes sense and describes how a man reacts to a woman so perfectly that it should be emailed to every woman around the world.") The male characters don't come off much better, but they do come off better. While Abby is painted as a repugnant caricature to her very core, Mike is revealed to only be a misogynist when the script calls for it; the rest of the time, he's nursing a broken heart caused by past relationships or lovingly hanging out with his sister and his nephew.
I'm no fan of The Hangover, but that film at least made some attempt at comic innovation. Everything in The Ugly Truth is merely recycled from past rom-coms, from Abby accidentally glimpsing Colin's penis (giggle giggle) to the pathetic character of Abby's lonelyheart sidekick (Bree Turner) who's unable to land her own man. I could go on, but I'd rather start laying the groundwork for next week's review of (500) Days of Summer, a romantic comedy that's as smart, perceptive and charming as this one is stupid, clueless and, well, ugly.