The Ugly Truth

Director    Robert Luketic
Starring    Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Cheryl Hines, John Michael Higgins, Kevin Connolly
Release    31 JUL (US) 7 AUG (UK)    Certificate 15
1 stars


2nd August 2009

Put down that well-thumbed copy of Cosmo, gentlemen: here we have a rom-com that finally promises to preach 'the truth' about love. Thank goodness! It's a well-known fact that, until Richard Curtis invented the romantic comedy, men and women didn't have the first clue how to pro-create - they basically just walked around with their genitalia hanging out, fucking holes in the ground and aimlessly masturbating in hedges. It's thanks to people like Katherine Heigl that the human race can continue multiplying - truly, we'd be on the edge of extinction without the relationship guidance of Hollywood's rom-com queens.

Ugh, spare me. This brand of 'truthful' rom-com - see also He's Just Not That Into You, an entire movie based around one line of dialogue from Sex And The City - wouldn't be so bad if 'the rules' they layed out weren't so utterly abhorrent. Take The Ugly Truth, for example. Heigl plays a career-orientated TV exec with no time to find a man; enter Gerard Butler, an outspoken, chauvinistic TV personality who informs Heigl she needs to dress like a slut and play hard to get if she wants to get laid. Charming. Yet at no point in The Ugly Truth does anyone seem to point out that this sort of behaviour is, well, despicable. It's certainly ugly, but there isn't an ounce of truth to be gleaned from it.

[gallery]I can stomach predictable romantic comedies - they're disposable forms of entertainment designed to be pink and fluffy and to brighten up the days of lonely spinsters. I get it. But The Ugly Truth isn't just predictable; it's completely rotten right down to its core. It's a film that's patronising towards both sexes. The girls are spineless, weak-willed and easily manipulated by men; the guys are disgustingly over-confident, testosterone-fuelled cock-ends - frankly the characters of The Ugly Truth are so shallow, they deserve each other. As a man I'm used to being misrepresented in movies, but I can confidently say if I was a woman, I'd be appalled at the portrayal of my gender as it is here.

Heigl's character is, for want of a better phrase, thick as shit. After passionately kissing Butler in a lift, she later asks herself, "Why did I like that?" Even later, she'll ask another man, "Why do you love me?" It's like she doesn't have a single thought in her head that wasn't put there by Butler's walking hard-on.

The screenplay is written by three females, who write women like they hate them and men like they've never met a real one. Butler's bell-end is forever telling Heigl how "all men" love big tits, and "all men" love short skirts; Heigl, incredibly, believes him and follows his repellent advice. The Ugly Truth is also extraordinary crude; Butler lectures Heigl "not to show vag" when wearing tight clothes and asks her how often she "flicks the bean". Rather than knee him in the groin as you might expect, she just simpers and comes over all coy. It's simply vile to watch their bilious flirtation take shape. A 15-rating adds little other than bad language - there's nothing adult about it whatsoever.

Perhaps the reason there are no laughs is that nothing about The Ugly Truth is original. There's one scene where Butler relays instructions to Heigl via an ear-piece while she's on a date with another man - are we, as a race, not beyond this kind of hackneyed routine? The movie's centrepiece is an orgasm scene at a dinner table a la When Harry Met Sally, with Heigl climaxing due to her vibrating panties. "Thanks for coming," smirks Butler afterwards. "To dinner, I mean. That kind of coming." What legendary wit! Oscar Wilde would literally shit himself upon hearing a gag like that! Ugh. It's the kind of boorish, crass role that even Dane Cook would turn down.

Having sat through rolls and rolls of this dreadful sub-genre of rom-com, I now feel confident enough to pitch my own. It's called You Lousy Shitheads Deserve Each Other. Synopsis: Over-sexed, rugged man acts like jerk to win heart of shrill, uptight career woman who really just wants to be bent over and hollowed out by a total asshole. Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson attached. Budget is $30 million. Any takers?

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