The Ugly Truth: Not the Worst Movie We've Ever Seen… But That's Not Saying Much

I didn't go into The Ugly Truth with very high expectations. I had watched the scene of her with the vibrating underpants a few weeks ago, which tipped me off to the fact that this might be worse than your standard rom-com. But I tried to put all my pre-judgment aside, muster up all the Katherine Heigl goodwill I had leftover from Knocked Up and that scene in 27 Dresses where she tries on all the hideous bridesmaid gowns (her in ugly dresses makes me laugh), and remind myself repeatedly that Gerard Butler is awfully attractive and can sometimes be the best thing about a not-very-good movie, like Timeline for example, before I headed to the theater.

It sort of worked. For the first ten minutes or so of the movie, I was actually somewhat enjoying it. Katherine Heigl is Abby, an anal-retentive TV producer at a small station, stuck working on a morning show and being so obsessive-compulsive and insistent on doing the news that she's essentially sabotaging her own show. The show is hosted by unhappily married couple, Larry (John Michael Higgins) and Georgia (Cheryl Hines). These two and their sniping made me chuckle.

In addition to being a terror at work, she also ruins any chance at romantic encounters by blind-dating guys based on her strict set of criteria. We're never actually told all ten of her criteria, but one of them is definitely flossing. She's obsessed with it. And while it's not a terrible quirk to have, and I'm sure her dental hygienist is very happy with her, it's not something that translates well to the big screen. Watching people floss is actually kinda gross. Anyway, that's probably my own weird issue, Abby tries to date Jim (Kevin Connolly), but he's so freaked out by the fact that she pulls out a cheat sheet of talking points during the main course and has run a background check on him, that it doesn't go so well.

After her dud of a date, Abby winds up home alone with her cat, because nothing says "Type-A spinster" like a cat. Real original. Cat's cute though, and the kitty is the one that steps on the remote and puts on The Ugly Truth, a cable access show with a shock jock, Mike (Gerard Butler) who says crass things about women in order to encourage more honesty in dating. Abby's horrified and calls into the show, explaining her quest for the perfect man, and says that she knows that he, and true love, are out there. Mike hangs up on her, because he's an ass, you see. But then, Abby's cat sneaks out of the house and up a tree, as cat always do in movies. Anyway, Abby climbs the tree, sees a hot new neighbor taking a shower and clumsily ends up hanging upside down with her granny panties exposed for the whole world to see. Neighbor Colin (Eric Winter) comes out to help, and then, because he's a doctor and the epitome of the perfect man, he wraps her ankle and runs screaming from the crazy chick next door.

The next morning Abby finds out that shock jock Mike is going to be doing a segment on the show daily. Uptight Abby doesn't approve, but quickly realizes that Mike, who has no psychotherapy education and is really just a formerly frustrated sales guy, might actually know what he's talking about. He helps Abby transform into perfect girlfriend material for Colin, and she doesn't fire him in exchange. Of course, this being a romantic comedy, there's a lot of chaos, pratfalls and stupid scenes like the one with the vibrating underpants that go on for far too long.

It's clear that the intent was to capture sort of a Bridget Jones vibe, where a girl thinks she's found her perfect man, and then realizes that the other guy is right for her, but it never grasps that tone. Perhaps because Winter's Colin is about as interesting as a piece of cardboard. Actually, a cut-out of a boringly attractive guy might have been just as useful in this film. Probably cheaper, too. There's a modicum of chemistry between Butler and Heigl, but he's never really as bad as he pretends to be, though he peppers the film with plenty of misogynistic behavior, but she's kind of a shrew. WARNING: Spoilers ahead, especially if you've never seen a romantic comedy before and have no earthly idea how this love triangle will play out based on the commercials. Abby's often mean and insensitive to those around her, she completely ignores advice of her staffers and basically ditches Colin, though he's done nothing except be nice to her. Typically in these movies, the "perfect guy" turns out to be a cad, so that the heroine can look like the one who has been hurt; here, it's quite the opposite. The worst fault that Colin has (besides his inability to seem convincingly in love with her) is that he falls for the "fake" Abby, the one that Mike created to be a dream girl/temptress for the male world, the one who dresses like a tramp and acts like a cock-tease and he desperately wants to have sex with. Not to say that Abby should have wound up with Colin, since they clearly had nothing in common, but it doesn't really make her look like he's in the wrong here. She's the one who was faking it, and she's the one who falls for someone else.

Whatever, I'm spending way too much time thinking about it. I also spent way too much time wondering if someone would fall out of a hot air balloon during a supposedly romantic scene, and wondering if Abby's poor, beleaguered, sex-starved assistant Joy (Bree Turner) would actually find a date. Or wondering how Abby suddenly learned to salsa dance during the course of two minutes? Or why the whole movie wasn't about the dysfunctional relationship between Georgia and Larry? Or why Rocco DiSpirito was in this movie? Or why they brought up Georgia's food issues, if it was never going to be a problem again? Or how poor Craig Ferguson got himself roped into this? Or why the Jell-O for the bikini wrestling looked so fluid and not really gelatiny? Or why someone would be stupid enough to wear vibrating underwear with her on a date or a business meeting? Or what the cat was doing when he wasn't on screen? Or why this film thinks that women really need something else to show them that if they transform into something else completely then they'll have perfect relationships? Or why this movie was made in the first place? So many questions. So many things that remained unanswered, but I'm sure that about a week from now I'll have completely forgotten this movie altogether, because while it wasn't really all that much worse than your typical rom-com -- albeit a watered-down version that really lacked in any chemistry and used almost ever stereotypical movie cliché on earth -- aside from that, it was perfectly blah. For a movie about a shock-jock, it would have been a nice shock if it was actually good.

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