The Ugly Truth (Sony, 7.24) is about a shrill and tightly-wrapped morning TV producer (Katherine Heigl) who decides to take guidance lessons from a sexist cock-of-the-walk talk-show guy (Gerard Butler) about how to land a prospective new boyfriend. Which gradually leads, of course, to Hiegl falling for Butler and vice versa and the other guy getting the blowoff. It was all there in the trailer.
I like Butler but he didn’t have a chance with this steaming pile of uptown fantasy chick-romance horseshit. The crude craft and lack of finesse make it a stunningly plastic, relentlessly boorish thing to sit through. It doesn’t wear its loathsomeness with pride as much as…I don’t know, cluelessness. It is arch, syrupy, cliche-ridden and girlish in the worst sense of that term. The whorish plotting and half-formed, rough-draft dialogue are just awful.
The Ugly Truth doesn’t even try to work with recognizable human behavior or tendencies or whatever. There seems to be a determination on the part of director Robert Luketic and the screenwriters (Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith) to studiously avoid any depictions of human behavior that might remotely resemble what passes for believable behavior among real people dealing with real situations.
The problem is that there’s a whole generation of filmmakers out there who believe that once a film is “just a comedy” that this amounts to a license to show people cavorting several miles outside the boundaries of realism and credibility and recognizable human genetics because…it’s a comedy! And it’s cancer. It’s pure cancer afflicting and tumorizing a once-respectable form. Billy Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch, Leo McCarey and David O. Russell would be bent over and vomiting on the floor after watching this thing.
Comedies are nothing unless they’ve been imagined and written like Hamlet — they have to be about serious hurt, real fears, genuine anxiety — and then lifted and contorted and pratfalled into humor with agility and spirit and split-second timing.
The Ugly Truth is just repellent sitcom crap aimed at younger women unencumbered by taste buds or judgment of any kind, and who are therefore easy lays. I understand “crazy” and I get “everyone is on drugs”…but you first have to realistically invest in and make people believe in the reality of what’s being said, done, decided upon and so on. Luketic and his screenwriting trio have totally ignored this responsibility.
If there was a court system within Hollywood that addressed exceptional creative crimes the whole Ugly Truth gang — Luketic, Eastman, Lutz, Smith plus producers Steven Reuther, Kimberly di Bonaventura, Deborah Jelin Newmyer, Tom Rosenberg and Gary Lucchesi plus executive producers Andre Lamal, Eric Reid, Katherine Heigl, Nancy Heigl, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith and Ryan Kavanaugh — would be wearing orange jumpsuits and handcuffs and standing before the judge. If it were my call they’d all get time. Okay, suspended sentences with community service.
Heigl hasn’t done herself any favors with her performance. She plays it pinched and highly strung and neurotically unappealing for the most part. You could put a nickel between her butt cheeks and it would never drop to the floor. She touches emotional bottom towards the end — I’ll give her that.
Butler has a kind of crude mannishness that comes across decently here and there, but his loutish American accent — the same one Mel Gibson began using in the mid ’80s with lines like “gimme a hot dawwg with rehhlish!” — sounds forced and ungenuine. He needs to stop trying to be American and speak in his own native Scottish accent, which is quite appealing.
Here‘s Todd McCarthy‘s review in Variety.