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The Ugly Truth

No Award
2009

‘…everything that could snarl up happens here; unsympathetic leads, silly scenarios, a wealth of sexual crudity and a debatable truth about men and women that ends up feeling rather…ugly…’

Sigh. The demise of the humble rom-com has been going on for a while now; few films embody what went wrong better than Robert Luketic’s effort from 2009. With a hot pairing of Katherine Heigl and Gerry Butler, it wouldn’t seem hard to strike sparks with a basic Taming of the Shrew scenario set against the world of cable tv, but pretty much everything that could snarl up happens here; unsympathetic leads, silly scenarios, a wealth of sexual crudity and a debatable truth about men and women that ends up feeling rather…ugly.

Abby (Heigl) is a tv producer in Sacramento; she seems to know very little about news, tv or romance. Into her life comes Mike (Butler), an unreconstructed male-chauvinist who somehow scores a hit with his home-made show which encourages men to understand a few of his home truths about romance. Men are man-children in Mike’s book, incapable of love or change, and women should just get with the programme and pander to their needs; bikini mud-wrestling is on brand for Mike. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, Abby falls under Mike’s spell, and even though she uses his techniques to wow a local doctor, Abby can’t help feeling that macho-man Mike is the potential suitor she really needs…

Written by three women, The Ugly Truth feels like it was written by one inebriated man; Mike is meant to be an alternative to self-help books, but it’s Abby’s self-esteem that seems to be under question. She invests in, sigh, a set of remote control vibrating knickers to stimulate herself, only to have the live handset stolen by a child while she’s at a busy corporate business dinner, with non-hilarious consequences. This scene apes When Harry met Sally’s infamous orgasm scene, but while Meg Ryan seems to be striking a blow for women with her fake orgasm performance, in this instance, it’s all about a major pratfall for Abby here. With some very crude dialogue to navigate, Abby eventually succumbs to Mike’s charm in a hot air balloon, although his mocking of her ‘spazzy dance’ makes him a resistible prize.

It’s worth noting that although The Ugly Truth made over $200 million at the worldwide box office, yet there is no call for a sequel, Butler has largely avoided rom-coms since this came out, and Heigl hasn’t had any kind of a hit in a decade. Making a bad movie that does well can be a curse; after the tired, offensive shenanigans presented here, it’s no wonder the public didn’t fancy any more of the same…

Comments

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  1. Bit harsh. It was a pairing of two unlikely stars-in-the-making – Heigl the unexpected break-out star of Grey’s Anatomy. I remember it as quite acceptable at the time, though retrospection may not be so kind. Heigl had another couple of hits – Killers $98 million box office and Life As We Know it $105 million – but came unstuck as private eye Stephanie Plum in One for the Money (2012) which was a clear attempt to expand her range.

    • Put the incense away, this isn’t a massage parlour! Imagine how naffed I was after seeing the whole film…

  2. 💯 cosign. I try to be very generous, even with films I don’t like, because it takes a lot of work and talent to make even a bad film. But for this one I have nothing but no hold barred contempt. It is the bottom of the barrel and may be the absolute worst rom com I’ve ever seen bar none…..

    • I hear you. Now, how many more to co-sign before we launch a class-action lawsuit against those responsible?

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