Movie News & Reviews

A fundamentally 'Ugly' movie

Speaking of suspension of disbelief, you really have to drum up a lot of it for romantic comedies, too.

It's one thing to accept a 30-story monster rising from the sea to turn Manhattan into an island-sized people-luau. It's a little harder to believe the people in rom-coms can't find someone to go out with when in real life people everyone who looks good enough to star in one is actually shooting one right now. They've got so many lovestruck admirers camped out on their front lawn they have to blast their way out their own front doors with a shotgun zombie holocaust style just to pop down to Safeway for a gallon of milk.

But right, other than looking so good they're paid millions of dollars to smile at each other, when they're playing a role, they're completely average people with completely average problems. And somehow movies about wizards and dwarves are dubbed "fantasy"? I say it's films like The Ugly Truth that really stretch the limits of credulity.

Katherine Heigl is the successful producer of a not-so-successful local news show. To kickstart their ratings, her boss brings in Gerard Butler, the crude host of a public access show dedicated to telling the homely reality about how relationships really work.

(Watch the trailer on YouTube)

Heigl thinks he's king bozo, but she hasn't been laid in a year, can't find a date and is desperate to go out with Eric Winter, the hot doctor who lives across the way. Butler offers her a deal: he helps her get with Winter, and she stops getting on his case at work. If he fails, he'll quit the show.

It's probably not the kind of situation wherein Heigl and Butler fall for each other instead. While we're waiting for that to pan out, The Ugly Truth provides much entertainment with the hilariously mistaken premise that because Heigl's an obsessive control freak, no man on earth would be interested in dating the perfectly round paired fat deposits swinging around below all that neuroticism.

If you're going to tell it like it is about men and women, you should at least get the facts straight. A dude has no problem going out with a girl he doesn't like. Quick, look up at your boyfriend. Catch the secret loathing in his eyes? Okay, he may have actually been thinking about how much he hates working at the Exxon and if it's too late to go become the world's baddest ninja instead, but there's also a very solid chance he was thinking about how long he'd have to wait to break up with you after you lost a leg or gained six pounds, but to get back to the point, in this universe a woman who looks like Heigl could be a serial kitten-drowner and still have a different date every day of the week.

Well, so the movie's central premise is fundamentally flawed. Its trio of writers make a good game of it anyway, doing their all to make Butler genuinely edgy, which means he swears a lot and makes many unsubtle references to one thing going into another thing.

But the verbal jokes also have this bloggy, poor man's Judd Apatow vibe to them that's pretty hit and miss. This is extra problematic when it gives you extra time not laughing to think about how everything Butler's saying is the most hateful, manipulative, scared way possible to view human behavior.

But then, Butler has to end up lovable by all, right? So all the unromantic arguments he's making have to end up negated, allowing the plot to collapse into predictable, contrived, safe sentiment carbon copied from every other Romantic Comedy Subtype-1.2 to ever hit the screen--oh right, and Heigl better be prevented from banging White at any point in their relationship too, because if she ended up sleeping with two men that would make her all easy and gross. By spending its last act thoroughly defanging everything halfway daring about itself, The Ugly Truth is just a lie.

Grade: C-