Review: THE UGLY TRUTH

by: GATW Guest Writer
July 24th, 2009

ugly_truth_ver2

Rating: 2/10

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/Clarabela Clara Mathews

    Thanks for saving me $10. I was planning to see it this weekend and reviewing it for my Chick FLicks blog. Maybe 500 Days of Summer is a better choice.

  • http://gordonandthewhale.com KateErbland

    It was seriously bad. And offensive. 500 DAYS is a great choice!!

  • rfd

    I like the fact that you like shows that embarrass men, like doing a pie, and getting caught, or a whole movie about being a 40 year loser, but Hegl's dinner scene is “humiliating”! Lady, you're just a sexist…

    Why can't women look bad and it be OK? Am I missing something by my analysis?

    Why the double standard?

  • http://gordonandthewhale.com samanthaurban

    Actually, someone else brought this to my attention, so I thought about for a while and the situations are different. (Though they start in similar ways: Biggs in “Pie” and Heigl in “Ugly” show a curiosity regarding their sexuality. )

    Biggs “does” a pie in the privacy of his own home and is “caught” by his father, leading to an awkward but heartfelt talk from his sympathetic dad. 'It's healthy for you,' 'boys will be boys,' 'no harm done,' etc.

    However, Heigl is accused of being too uptight because she doesn't masturbate (which is given a disturbing euphemism in “Ugly Truth”). So she is given vibrating underwear, which she tries on, but does not activate. The film then portrays her as a moron, leaving for dinner with the underwear on and putting the vibrator remote in her purse. (What idiot would bring the remote?) Then, the vibrator is activated by a young male child (not of her own free will) and she orgasms in a very public place as her male superiors and co-workers look on and chuckle.

    On the surface, the situations might seem similar, but I argue that, with analysis, they are quite different. The only way the situations would have been the same is if Heigl had turned the vibrator on at home and been caught by a female friend or family member and then assured that her activity was healthy and normal. That was clearly not the case.

  • R F

    Good analysis. The “against her will” part is key. I honestly can't think of a similar scene with a man in ANY movie. I've actually only saw “Pie” one time, long ago. I found it only mildly amusing.

    Truth is, I'm older, so very few things seem “new” anymore. One of the “Porkys” movies probably had something similar to both these.

    In fact, the only scene I can think of that is close to Heigl's was in the first “Porky's”, when Miss Ballbreker(sp) grabbed the guy's thing in the ladies shower. And wouldn't let go. Now that, as a man, who still has that silly 14 year old buried deep inside, was funny!

    Anyway, women in general hate “lack of power” scenes and find them more troubling than men in general. Yea, I'm stereotyping.

    When you get my age, you realize that there are profiles that do fit large groups. That's how advertising is targeted and marketed, even though the MSN tried to make “profiling” somehow unreliable. We're talking percentages here, not perfection in every case.

    And are ya'll so sensitive that could really happen? I figured it would be just slightly annoying until she could remove them. I just don't think it would work like that in real life. It is a movie, after all.

    Anyway, you seem like a very thoughtful young woman. I still think women in general should lighten up though.

  • R F

    Good analysis. The “against her will” part is key. I honestly can't think of a similar scene with a man in ANY movie. I've actually only saw “Pie” one time, long ago. I found it only mildly amusing.

    Truth is, I'm older, so very few things seem “new” anymore. One of the “Porkys” movies probably had something similar to both these.

    In fact, the only scene I can think of that is close to Heigl's was in the first “Porky's”, when Miss Ballbreker(sp) grabbed the guy's thing in the ladies shower. And wouldn't let go. Now that, as a man, who still has that silly 14 year old buried deep inside, was funny!

    Anyway, women in general hate “lack of power” scenes and find them more troubling than men in general. Yea, I'm stereotyping.

    When you get my age, you realize that there are profiles that do fit large groups. That's how advertising is targeted and marketed, even though the MSN tried to make “profiling” somehow unreliable. We're talking percentages here, not perfection in every case.

    And are ya'll so sensitive that could really happen? I figured it would be just slightly annoying until she could remove them. I just don't think it would work like that in real life. It is a movie, after all.

    Anyway, you seem like a very thoughtful young woman. I still think women in general should lighten up though.

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