The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Review: The Ugly Truth

Written by: Amy Brown, Special to CC2K

Katherine Heigl turns in a good performance in this otherwise mixed bag of a comedy.

ImageOh wow, look! It’s an attractive overworked career woman with a nonexistent love life! She goes on a date and makes hilarious blunders! Oh, but wait! Out of nowhere, it’s the completely incompatible male lead! He gets lots of women and the two characters hate each other!

How many times have I seen this movie?

Man helps woman find love, man gets jealous, man and woman have some sort of steamy encounter, it looks like it won’t be happily ever after, BUT they end up together and everyone in the audience goes home heartwarmed, if you will.

Really, I could’ve written that without even having seen The Ugly Truth, and run an almost 100 percent chance of being completely right (had I gone to see The Break-Up or something, I would look like an idiot). Romantic comedies aren’t exactly known for plot twists or originality. Don’t get me wrong; I do not have a prejudice against the genre. I just know what I’m getting myself into.

Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up, Grey’s Anatomy) portrays the career woman: a Sacramento TV producer of a morning news show with really awful ratings. Also, the co-anchors are a married couple who aren’t having sex (a source of multiple one-liners throughout the movie).

One night, her cat (because every lonely single woman has a cat) steps on the remote and the TV changes to a public access show – The Ugly Truth, hosted by Gerard Butler (300, P.S. I Love You) and his poorly faked American accent. His show offers such misogynistic love advice like, "A man is attracted to you for your tits and ass, and will stick around for what you’re willing to do with them." I must say, it’s charming. So Katherine Heigl is immediately incensed and she calls into his show to yell at him.

Just a quick note about misogyny: much of this movie centers on the fact that Gerard Butler’s character, in no uncertain terms, objectifies women. He ends up working for Katherine Heigl, and also sexually harassing her. But the audience found this hilarious. I was sitting in a row in the theater made up of mostly women, and I think I was the only one who got angry when he slapped her ass, or especially when the male news anchor said, Well he’s not sexually harassing ME. The predominantly female theater erupted into hysterical laughter when John Michael Higgins (Kath and Kim, Yes Man) said this line. But think about it…that’s not funny. That is actually the opposite of funny. Sexual harassment makes for about as good a joke as rape does, and that was worked into the script too (and the audience found that outrageously funny, which really disturbed me).

Gerard Butler does outrageous things! He addresses the sexual dysfunction of the anchor couple on-air, which leads to some gross…tongue bathing, if you will. He wrestles in Jell-o with girls in bikinis. He dresses up in a gorilla suit to literally talk about monkey sex. Then he invades Katherine Heigl’s personal life. She gets a push-up bra and hair extensions, and a set of directives to basically be submissive and have no opinion. Suddenly, she’s the perfect woman and the super dreamy orthopedic surgeon neighbor (Eric Winter) wants to take her on dates! Seriously, ladies. Just get some extra hair and less personality, and the (bland but attractive) men will fall at your feet!

Oh, but Gerard Butler gets jealous. And then it is discovered that he’s not really a chauvinist pig, he’s just been deeply wounded by the women in his past. So it’s OK, really. Right? Also, his nephew lives next door and they get along really well, which I guess is supposed to be redeeming. I think what is really supposed to be redeeming here is that Gerard Butler liked Katherine Heigl without the extensions and with the opinions (although I don’t know what his views are on the push-up bra). I was too distracted by his constantly shifting accent to focus on the moral here, if there is one.

So does Katherine Heigl end up with the boring but male model-esque orthopedic surgeon or the misogynist who really just has a broken heart? Well I mean…duh, come on.

This movie did showcase what I deem to be the best acting Heigl has ever done (aside from the part in Knocked Up where she was in labor). There’s an extended gag with vibrating panties and it’s the only time I’ve ever thought she’s been funny. She didn’t get that Emmy nod for pretending to die of a brain tumor, but she should get some sort of recognition for making the movie theater laugh so loud that I couldn’t actually hear what she was saying.

At this point I should let it be known that I did not actually hate this movie. They did a good job casting Gerard Butler, because I found it hard to hate him. He’s a likable guy. He is what saved this movie for me, even with its creepy show off your boobies undertones and Katherine Heigl, who I just couldn’t relate to or feel bad for, no matter how hard I tried.

This movie seemed to appeal to the people in the theater with me, including the man sitting directly to my right, which I guess says something about a romantic comedy. It was not the most clever or original movie I’ve ever seen, but it didn’t need to be and I don’t think anyone in the audience ever expects a romantic comedy to be…new or original. It’s also not the kind of movie I would take notes on for my own love life, a la He’s Just Not That Into You. Push up bras and hair extensions just aren’t for me.

One more note, and that is that this movie is slightly more vulgar than I had anticipated. I would be embarrassed to see it with my mother. Don’t take your little sister and definitely don’t take your grandmother, because she will not appreciate the 20 or so minutes of masturbation jokes (unless your grandmother has a really warped sense of humor).

As far as romantic comedies go, this one is a little short on the romance end, but it seems to have plenty of offensive humor. If that’s your thing (offensive but still generic romantic comedy), The Ugly Truth should be on your viewing list.