by Rick Grant
Grade: B+ / Rated R / 101 min
This scenario presents an original slant on the romantic comedy archetype. Nicole Eastman’ s screenplay plays with the vast differences between how women and men view relationships through the cleverly developed characters, Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) and Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler).
Abby is a local TV station producer who is in danger of losing her job because her ratings are dropping. Her personal life is a disaster. She lives alone with her cat and her life is so hectic she doesn’t have time for dating.
When a brash guy Mike Chadway, who hosts a raunchy cable access show, is hired to shake things up on her show, Abby’s world is turned upside down. By accident (her cat hit the remote control) she sees Mike’s show and is outraged enough to call him. He eats her alive with “The Ugly Truth” about her impossibly high standards of dating the perfect man.
The next day, Mike is in her studio for his new show that she produces. Of course, the evolution of the story is predictable, but Butler and Heigl are hilarious together as warring colleagues. Mike’s funny, outrageous, and his ideas about relationships are based on personal experience. Men identify with him and women are secretly turned on by his macho bravado and his frank tirades about the defensive layers of women’s personalities. His theory: Once you peel back the layers, the slut in every woman comes out.
After Mike’s first “The Ugly Truth” show, Abby’s ratings skyrocketed much to her shock and chagrin. As time goes on, Mike begins to get under her skin, and he makes a deal with her, that if she follows his advice, the guy next door who she is smitten by will be eating out of her hand after the first date. She goes along with the experiment and is amazed that Mike’s methods work. Deep down, Abby is beginning to fall for Mike not her neighbor, but she just won’t admit it.
Skillfully directed by Robert Luketic, whose impeccable pacing and staging of the scenes, along with Butler and Heigl perfect comedic timing, created a high laugh level throughout the film. Butler is especially funny as he shreds Abby’s defenses.
Abby’s feigned outrage over Mike’s methods, and his crass manner create explosive sexual tension between them. His advice cuts through the BS between men and women and he reveals what men really think about women- graphic sexual images rather than romantic visions. Women like this no BS approach. Once they forget all the mind games and unrealistic expectations, they can relax and enjoy primal sex.
Since Mike’s advice worked so well in reeling in her next door Adonis, she is conflicted about him. She won’t admit it, but she has fallen for Mike. How they work this out makes for funny situations. When her perfect Mr. Right unexpectedly shows up at her hotel room where she had traveled on a junket to convince Mike not to take the Network’s offer, she is forced to make a decision.
What makes this film so funny is Mike’s monologues on how men really think about women. It strikes home for his story’s TV audience of men and women, who see the truth in his ideas. It also works for the movie audience who also identify with Mike’s advice. From The Phantom of The Opera to 300 to The Ugly Truth, Butler proves his versatility at pulling off comedy with guffaw producing zeal.
The Ugly Truth is an uplifting summer movie that is wildly enjoyable. The story produces vicarious thrills and laughs for beleaguered audiences who go to the movies to escape the heat and the recession doldrums.
The Ugly Truth
by Rick Grant