The Ugly Truth is a romantic comedy that is meant to be a vehicle for Katherine Heigl’s comedic talents. Unfortunately, she is grossly upstagesd by Gerard Butler’s deft skill in the laughs department. Instead of driving this pony, she is more often (literally) the butt of every joke. The film follows Heigl as Abby, an uptight control freak television producer, who meets her match in Mr. Butler as Mike, a misogynistic slob who lands a position on her show. Believe it or not, this boring redux of every other rom com you’ve ever seen is actually an attempt at a smarter kind of comedy. Going out on a limb, the film keeps the dirt in to earn an R rating, rendering this a raunchy sex-comedy tailor made for proper ladies. We know that boys will go see R-rated romps, but will women? Yes, but they’re going to need something a little more substantial than The Ugly Truth.
Written by veterans Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith as well as newcomer Nicole Eastman, the script saves almost all of the good lines for Mr. Butler’s chauvinist pig. I can only imagine how they must have relished banging out lines like “Well thank your pussy for me” for the British beefcake. On the other hand, they handed Ms. Heigl the word “cock” and asked her to run with it. As the slick Mike dips behind a couch before Abby answers her door in her new My-Fair-Lady-ed skin, he calls her back at the last second, only to smack her ass for an uproarious laugh. He is the power broker here, he is the funny one.
Ms. Lutz and Ms. Smith are well regarded in the film biz for the spectacular number they did on Reese Witherspooon’s career with the brilliant Legally Blonde. Director Robert Luketic was also on-board for that project. The difference between the two films is not really laughs (they are both chock full), but rather a seriousness of character. With the Witherspoon film, bimbo Elle Woods is a dumbass who the writers take very seriously, fine-tuning the tiniest little laughs that surround her. Here, Abby is just your run of the mill stuck-up producer type, something that is getting very very tired in this genre. On the other hand, Mike is the obvious voice of reason wrapped in a thick layer of angry tirades. It is unfortunate that he is such a strong voice, I’d rather our protagonist learn something more than a fake orgasm.
Where the film does win is in being a nice adult respite from the kid-centric summer madness. If you’re tired of things getting all blow’d up everywhere, The Ugly Truth is certainly a nice way to spend 90 minutes. And hey, it’s actually about two notches above completely stupid, plus the R-rating will keep the brats out of the theater. Adults rejoice! We’ve almost got a reason to head to the movies.
P.S. Its in 2.35:1 cinemascope. What the hell, Mr. Luketic? Let’s fit some of those laughs in vertically, pal. You lose 2 points for unmotivated choice.