The Ugly Truth

    Rated (R)

starring Katherine HEIGL and Gerard BUTLER

Is it love or is it lust that blinds us?  This is the main theme when first time screenwriter Nicole Eastman, and veteran writer Karen Lutz (House Bunny, 10 Things I Hate About You, Legally Blonde) team up to give us this quirky comedy in a movie addressing once again the brutal truth about the differences between the sexes.

Abby (HEIGL), a television producer, is desperately searching for her perfect match, however, her paint-by-the-numbers approach, compounded by her obsessive need to be controlling, doesn’t seem to be working very well.  Enter Mike (BUTLER), the hot new sensation in a televised advice forum called “The Ugly Truth”, a show he hosts while bluntly offering advice and tips on picking up men.  As embittered as he may sound, his unconventional approach on advising women isn’t that far from ‘the truth’.  Men want one thing and one thing only…or do they?  Unfortunately for Abby, one of the producers who is conventional in her wants yet unconventional in her approach, the studios sign Mike to help increase the ratings.  Believing the move to be disastrous Abby plays along only to soon find out that the ratings are in fact soaring, resulting in her questioning not only her knowledge of what men want, but of what women want as well.
This is the refreshing plot point.  So now Mike and Abby, the epitome of mixing oil and water, are joined at the hip as the producers will do anything to keep Mike happy, the ratings soaring, and secure themselves another contract.  Abby has to grin and bear Mike’s seemingly misogynistic approach to providing viewers with his 100% guaranteed -or- your- money -back method to getting a man including but not limited to giving him head and whatever he wants in bed.  It’s not called “The Ugly Truth” for nothing as you’ll quickly find out that if you don’t want to know it, it’s probably not pretty.
With Abby intent on proving Mike wrong and dismissing his theories they decide to wager a bet on love vs. lust in hopes of Abby scoring with her newfound neighbor, a doctor who perfectly fits all criteria in Abby’s little check list.  Thus she enlists Mike to help her. 
You pretty much know what happens next, and if you can’t figure out the ending by the 36th minute then you either play too much Xbox or watch too much porn.
The Ugly Truth isn’t anything new.  The story parallels “When Harry Meets Sally” in that both Harry’s and Mike’s characters both seem to have the sexes figured out, thus empowering themselves into feeling they are immune to the simple, and often necessary, games people play.  It’s a fair shake to say that the more you get to know someone the more attracted you are to them.  Even though it took Harry and Sally years they finally figured out what it only took Mike a few days, thus lessening the credibility of his philosophies.  
From a movie watching stand point the only way that these redundant themes (dogs vs. cats, mars venus, etc) can be remotely palpable is by the interaction between the main characters, and possibly a new approach to this seemingly never ending debate.  I never felt that Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler were any match for the Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal duet, but toward the end of the first act the two characters of Abby and Mike pretty much did the dance.  They seemed to have an interesting chemistry as they clearly were starting to be smitten by eachother.  It didn’t matter that I had already figured out the ending and admitted that I was interested in knowing the path that would take them there. 
The filmmakers, in what appeared to be a last ditch effort to avoid any real research, composed a series of half assed scenarios in hopes of making the movie cuter than it already was becoming.  Avoiding the typical hollywood fodder would have made this movie more mainstream thus pinpointing the very element that heightens our interest in this subject without over inflating it.
In the end i felt that “The Ugly Truth” delivered in touching upon the often undervalued question about the “truth” as to what men really want, thus entering the rarified group of comedy-romance films.  But barely.  The ending could have been disastrous in that it could have been better planned.  This movie is viewable and re-viewable as the comical little innuendos tickle the empathetic fancies that separate our sexes.  You might even learn a little something about how little you might know about yourself, and them.  But all in all it is more of a how-to movie.  How to get a man, but not necessarily how to keep him.  And that my film chums….is the ugly truth. 

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