8 August 2009

Movie Review: The Ugly Truth


The Ugly Truth
2009, 96mins, R
Director: Robert Luketic
Writer (s): Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kristen Smith Cast includes: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins
Release Date: 24th July 2009

The Ugly Truth” is an ugly film, a mirthless romance which fails to generate laughs or worthwhile insight into relationships between male and female. The direction from Robert Luketic is far from inspired but it’s the limp performances and tragically unimpressive screenplay that sink this turgid mess, writing of the quality apparent in “The Ugly Truth” couldn’t be turned into a decent movie under the eyes of even cinemas greatest auteur. Adding insult to injury the film also showcases a creepy misogynist streak, meaning that everyone can be vaguely offended amidst the unstoppable boredom.

Abby (Katherine Heigl) is a successful TV producer working for a station in dire need of ratings, and in a cheap ploy to up their audience the executives have hired relationship guru Mike (Gerard Butler). However unlike most self-help experts Mike prides himself in revealing the “ugly truth”, never sugar coating his dating advice and as a result Abby tires of his loudmouthed and chauvinist attitude. In a bid to win his new producer over Mike decides to help Abby get the man of her dreams, if he fails to make her attractive to hunky doctor Colin (Eric Winter) then he’ll quit and let Abby get back to her old professional environment. Thus a battle of the sexes ensues, albeit one in which little of substance occurs and even less laughter is stimulated.

For my money Katherine Heigl was one of the brightest spots in 2007’s delightful “Knocked-Up” but since then things have taken a notable dip for the worst. Last year’s “27 Dresses” was a modest box-office success but artistically stank up the multiplexes whilst the actresses increasingly diva like behaviour has gained her a notorious professional reputation. Things now come full circle with the abominable “The Ugly Truth” the current nadir of her career as a leading lady and certainly a film that she will struggle to dethrone from said title. The picture has a raunchy temperament but the jokes are awful whilst the central pair make a duo so toxic it’s impossible to care about their love lives. It’s obvious that Luketic thinks he’s making an edgy and balls out comedy in the vein of Judd Apatow, in truth his feature is tonally closer to National Lampoon’s current output.

Heigl and Butler are thoroughly useless in “The Ugly Truth”, their performances are stilted and the scenes they share feel remarkably forced and unnatural. It’s a safe bet that “The Ugly Truth” will fulfil all your usual rom-com plot contortions, but not even the overstretched journey to the predictable finale is amusing. The characters themselves are a heinous pair but the terrible acting and Butler’s utterly blank comedic timing ensure that there is no hope of onscreen salvation. Romantic comedies should boast a pair of people who the audience grow to care about and empathise with but the vulgar leads in “The Ugly Truth” are worthy of neither. Support is irrelevant seeing as no other character has been conceived as anything more than a broad comic buffer, the like of John Michael Higgins, Cheryl Hines and Kevin Connolly wasted in minimal and unsatisfying parts.

The movie is filled with brutally sexist and damagingly brash opinions, all three of the people involved with writing this trash are female, a cinematic enigma if ever there was one. In creating this atrocious and gender offensive cinematic wreck the group of scribes have sullied their own sex and conjured up a rather disgusting and false view of men. Good going gals. To further highlight their ineptitude the character of Mike is painted in broad strokes as a rampaging boar, occasionally being allowed to show through a saccharine nephew based subplot that he’s well....shucks.....a really sensitive guy. This insipid piece of characterization is a good example of the imbalanced nature between gross and sickeningly sweet that infects “The Ugly Truth”, yet even the sex gags worked into the piece fail to raise a titter. “The Ugly Truth” has jokes sourced from orgasms, vibrating panties, oral sex and bikini clad jelly fights but they all share one common trait, they’re not funny.

There isn’t much more to say about this loathsome enterprise other than it’s a trashy, unfunny and chauvinist dullard of a movie, with absolutely nothing of worth to say about relationships or even the sexual dynamics of man and woman. “The Ugly Truth” is the sort of film that 13 years olds might get a kick out off because it stars that chick from “Grey’s Anatomy” using expletives and climaxing in a restaurant whilst King Leonidas talks about boobs and drops F-bombs like they’re going out of fashion. Everybody else however should see it for the worthless piffle that it really is.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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