Friday, September 21, 2012

Movie – The Ugly Truth (2009)

The Ugly Truth is an R rated romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler.  If you’re one of those people who hates Heigl then this movie will not change your mind about her.  If you’re one of those people who hates romantic comedies, this will also not change your mind.  The movie holds little surprise for people who know how romantic comedies work, but what it does have is some refreshingly frank, funny dialogue and some great chemistry between the leads.  And you know what?  Sometimes it’s a good thing to know where a movie is going before you start to watch it precisely because it’s going to show you what you want to see.

Abby (Heigl) is a talented producer of a ratings challenged regional morning show.  Unfortunately, what makes her good at this job (being a control freak) makes her a disaster in her personal life.  She ruins just about every date she goes on.  She has a literal checklist of qualities a man is required to have for her to consider him as relationship material.  She even has her assistant (Bree Turner) do a background check on one guy, which ruins any possibility of the “get to know you” aspect of a first date.

She arrives at work one morning to find out that the station, in an effort to improve ratings, has hired Mike Chadway (Butler) to appear for short segments.  He is a notorious “shock jock” (think Howard Stern) who gives advice to women about men.  His segment is known as "The Ugly Truth".  He is obnoxious and his advice is crude, to say the least.  Abby, whose preferred source of advice on dating runs to books like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, is horrified. 

Abby and Mike clash on everything; neither of them backing down.  He finally makes her a bet.  He’s heard that she has a crush on her neighbor Colin (Eric Winter), and about her past dating failures.  He will give her advice on how to land this guy.  If she is successful then he gets to stay on the morning show; if she follows his advice and fails, he will leave with no complaints.

Heigl has her second onscreen Cyrano moment when she wears an earpiece so she can get constant instruction from Mike during her first date with Colin.  (Heigl’s first such scene was in 1994’s My Father the Hero – with a different Gerard, but actual Cyrano – Gerard Depardieu.)  Mike’s instructions to flatter Colin and then tease him some, but leave him wanting more, work flawlessly.  Even though Abby hates herself, she continues to take Mike’s advice.

One scene I liked (because it was so true) was when Mike tells her not to bother dumping all her complaints and troubles about her life on her date because he won’t be listening.  She says that not all men are insensitive like him; some are good listeners.  Mike explains to her that some men are good at pretending to listen because they want to have sex, and this increases their odds.

Mike sends her a gift to help her loosen up.  When she opens it she finds a pair of vibrating panties, complete with a remote control.  She’s game, so she tries them on, but before she can test them out she is whisked away to a business dinner at a restaurant.  Of course, she drops her purse, the remote is lost, and it gets picked up by a kid who can’t figure out what the heck it is.  He keeps hitting buttons, but it doesn’t seem to do anything.  What the kid can’t see is that Abby is going nuts at a nearby table, trying to act normal, all while conducting a business meeting.  Mike figures out what is going on, and has all he can do not to burst out laughing at Abby as things come to a head.

After sharing this and other experiences, Mike and Abby start to realize they’ve got feelings for each other, but of course won’t admit it.  Mike’s appearances on their local morning show get him an interview in the much bigger Los Angeles market.  Abby is sent to L.A. to try to get Mike to come back.  They share a moment, but Colin arrives to mess it up and things go quickly downhill from there.  Will Mike and Abby be able to get by their hurt feelings in order to realize they are meant for each other?  (Really?  Do you have any doubts?)

I mentioned the frank dialogue.  A lot of people figured this movie was just some man’s fantasy of getting a hot woman while acting like a caveman, but the film was actually written by three women.  Two of them (Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith) wrote such other movies as 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde, and Ella Enchanted.  This film was directed by Robert Luketic, who also directed Legally Blonde.

As I said at the top, if you are a Katherine Heigl hater, or if you hate romantic comedies, then you should skip this movie.  However, if you’re looking for some laughs, a little romance, and some sexy chemistry, then I recommend you give this film a try.

Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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  1. I like Heigl, but I didn't like this movie at all. A laughed a couple of times, but I just found it nauseatingly simple-minded.

  2. Ha, how did you know that I fit into most of those categories! I guess i'll be skipping this one :)

  3. Good to know that my initial reaction to this one (avoid! avoid!) was the right one.

  4. I'm sorry Chip, but this movie was unbearable to say the least. Heigl and Butler have some juicy chemistry but I didn't give a single crap about either of their characters and the humor didn't click, no matter how far they tried to push the dirty stuff. Nice review, though.

  5. @All - Looks like it's universal: I'm the only one who watched it and that laughed enough to like it. :-)

    When I create a category I usually take a few seconds to guess which of my recommendations will be the one most people are surprised by and/or disagree with and I was certainly right with this movie.

    Thanks for sharing your comments.