Review: THE UGLY TRUTH
Writers: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Director: Robert Luketic
Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler
Studio: Columbia Pictures
I’ve never walked out of a movie and I don’t know if I ever will, barring extreme physical illness. But I came awfully close to walking out of THE UGLY TRUTH.
The new “battle of the sexes” themed comedy from director Robert Luketic starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler is insulting, moronic, and – worst of all – predictable.
Heigl plays Abby, the producer of a failing morning talk show that tries to hit ratings gold by hiring Butler’s scruffily sexist Mike for a segment called “The Ugly Truth,” in which he discusses how he thinks relationships between men and women should be. Even though the two leads are complete opposites, they inevitably fall for one another. How fresh.
Don’t get me wrong. I love R-rated sex comedies like “There’s Something About Mary,” “American Pie,” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” But those movies are funny. THE UGLY TRUTH is not. In fact, I kept a running tally of how many times I laughed during the film’s 95 minute running time. I chuckled twice.
A huge problem I had with the film lies in the writing and concepts. As a woman, I felt degraded and humiliated. There were several scenes in the movie that caused men in the audience to howl with laughter, while women shifted in their seats, embarrassed.
Now, of course Butler’s character is sexist – that’s supposed to be funny. But it’s no longer funny when Heigl’s character buys into it. Typical female behavior or traits are mocked in this movie, sending the message that the only way to have a relationship is to change yourself to fit someone else’s ideal.
Even the bits of the film intended to be funny fall flat. Heigl spies on her attractive neighbor and falls out of a tree, exposing her underwear. What a scream. Later, she forgets to take off vibrator panties and naturally, they go off for what feels like an eternity at an important business dinner. I don’t know why she wouldn’t just take them off, but then, I’m not a brilliant TV executive like her character. Either way, that’s not funny. It’s humiliating – for her and the audience.
But all is not lost here. Gerard Butler is generally charming, which is a blessing when you consider how completely unlikable Katherine Heigl is. Butler also managed to nail an American accent – he really sounds like a cigar-smoking, beer-guzzling man’s man. Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins are amusing as the morning show’s married co-anchors. And Bree Turner is quasi-cute as the film’s obligatory BFF, but often comes off as a poor man’s Judy Greer.
My main point of contention with the movie lies with Heigl. Back in 2007, after KNOCKED UP made her known to the population of the world that doesn’t watch “Grey’s Anatomy,” she bit the hand that fed her and criticized the film in Vanity Fair. She complained that the film was “sexist” and that it painted women as “shrews, as humorless and uptight” and the men as “lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.” Well, guess what, Heigl, you’ve done it again. But KNOCKED UP was a legitimately funny film. THE UGLY TRUTH is sexist and misogynistic. I left the theater feeling that Heigl had personally set the women’s movement back about 20 years.
Don’t see THE UGLY TRUTH. If you’re really in the mood, go rent SOMEONE LIKE YOU, the 2001 rom-com starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman, because it has the exact same plot but is much less offensive. It also doesn’t have volume issues between dialogue and music or awful green screen effects, of which THE UGLY TRUTH has plenty. Basically, THE UGLY TRUTH is the perfect date movie – if you’re ready to break up.