‘The Ugly Truth’ is an attractive romance
'The Ugly Truth'
2.5 out of 4 stars; 96 minutes; Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler and Eric Winter.
Ladies, does your guy refuse to accompany you to any film that comes close to being classified as a “date movie?”
Well, “The Ugly Truth” will clear up that ongoing argument.
The career of daytime TV producer Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) is right on schedule, even if the ratings for her show “Sacramento AM” could be a tad better. Her love life is a different story, as few men she meets hold up to the strict criteria she has set for her future boyfriend.
The two most recent men she has come into contact with differ greatly according to her standards. First, there is her new neighbor (Eric Winter), a hunky, sensitive surgeon who seems absolutely perfect. Then there’s Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), the obnoxious, grubby host of the public access show “The Ugly Truth,” which dispenses frank, unflattering advice for women about how to snag a guy.
Abby’s disgust with the man she considers the shame of the airwaves is strengthened when he is hired as a commentator on her program, becoming a quick hit with viewers. But even taking his chauvinistic attitude into consideration, she starts taking his advice on how to win over the good doctor.
No one is more surprised than she when his suggestions work phenomenally, but she wonders whether she needs to reconsider what she’s looking for in the dating world.
Heigl seems to have cornered the market on the affluent “young career woman/control freak” character, though she keeps it fresh despite playing nearly exactly the same character in last year’s “27 Dresses.”
Butler is as charismatic as ever as Mike, at least in the contradictory style of the average movie’s definition of a “man’s man.” You know the type: loves watching girls wrestling in Jell-O and approaches every relationship with aloofness, yet still wants to be a role model for his nephew (Noah Matthews) and salsa dances as if he were a ballroom instructor.
But there’s something for everybody in this vein.
“Days of Our Lives” actor Winter is about as useful as you’d expect a soap star to be, but there is plentiful comedy among the supporting cast.
Aside from Kevin Connolly as the poor sap who doesn’t stack up to Abby’s checklist – complete with a background check – during an inquisitory blind date, Bree Turner is cute as Abby’s desperate co-worker, Joy, while Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins are great as the unhappily married anchors of “Sacramento AM,” whose nasty digs at each other melt away once Mike gives them his unique therapy.
There have been many such renderings of “Cyrano de Bergerac,” and this one also has a glimmer of “Pygmalion” in reverse, with Mike turning Abby into as dirty a girl as possible.
But the familiar story – which could be downright misogynistic in the wrong hands – reveals itself to be more insightful than it might seem at first glance. The pair not only provides some good laughs, but they make their characters genuinely vulnerable and therefore that much more relatable than similar, forgettable fare.
And don’t mistake this for a chick flick, gents.
Although the screenplay is an entirely female endeavor – with dialogue that seems more strategic and drawn out in its cursing than it needs to be – the repartee is pretty well-balanced for both genders.
The concept of romance may not be something that the two leads completely concur about, but you can’t argue with results considering their genuine chemistry.
It may not be quite up to the benchmark of a Tracy-Hepburn classic, but “The Ugly Truth” contains a good deal more legitimacy than most other movies built on a love/hate relationship.
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