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Ugly, but not so funny

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | JULY 27, 2009 7:15 AM

Movie Review: The Ugly Truth
** out of *****

What does a woman want in a man? Sexy, smart, sophisticated. He plans romantic evenings at the opera with red wine and caviar. He has a successful job as a doctor or lawyer, drives a nice car, and opens every door. He listens. He has a witty sense of humor, and he sends flowers and love letters. But most importantly — he’s straight, and single.

Sadly for women, this man does not exist — at least according to the new movie The Ugly Truth.

Katherine Heigl stars as Abby, a television producer who is way too much of a control freak to find any real relationship. She brings checklists to dates and talking subjects if there is a lull in conversation. As far as sex goes — she doesn’t have it very much but is willing to wait for Mr. Right with a symmetrical face to come take her away in his convertible.

One night, after coming home from a terrible date (her first in months) where she spent the first five minutes criticizing tap water versus bottled, her cat accidentally turns on the local-access program “The Ugly Truth” with Mike (Gerard Butler). Despite being a bit rough, Mike believes that all men really want is sex, and anything more than that — listening, romancing — is just a way to get sex. He tells women, if they want a relationship, to forget about their “Mr. Rights” and accept the truth that each man is merely an animal that needs to hump something.

These “facts,” as Mike calls them, make Abby angry and she calls and they get into a fight on air about what men are capable of, then he calls her a “dog,” and she gets hung up on. The next day, because her morning news program’s ratings are poor, the TV corporation decides to bring new talent. Who is it? Of course — Mike. From then on, the story revolves around the two’s relationship. Abby meets another guy — Colin (Eric Winter), and she and Mike make a bet. If she follows whatever he says, Colin will fall in love.

The Ugly Truth’s major problem centers on it’s not being quite sure if it wants to be a man’s romantic comedy or a woman’s. Over the past couple years, such movies as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin established that it is possible for this type of genre to appeal to the male species — providing enough guy humor for the boyfriend to not only tolerate seeing the movie but enjoy it as well. The Ugly Truth wants to come across to that side with its share of crude humor and hefty language, but instead the film tries too hard, and it’s just awkward. Imagine Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook talking about fucking girls — it just doesn’t work.

A saving factor of the movie is John Michael Higgins as the dimwitted news anchor Larry. Like always, his dry sense of humor came across golden and the audience loved it. Without him, the awkward two leads never would have had a chance to redeem themselves.

Aside from the uncomfortable interactions of the characters, like so many romantic comedies, the characters aren’t real, the situations don’t happen, and the ending is cheesy. Beyond that, The Ugly Truth will only promote the fantasies women have that it works so hard to extinguish and continue to make men look like assholes everywhere.


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