Do you want to know the ugly truth about The Ugly Truth? Well, besides being obvious and banal cinematically, it made me laugh
a lot actually. Romantic comedies usually have one thing going for them and that is predictability. While this one has it in spades, what surprised me was how crude and crass the humor ended up being. And that's a very good thing because those instances brought on the biggest laughs of them all. One could guess there would be a few moments, especially after watching the trailer and seeing Gerard Butler's character being the epitome of alpha male, however, one would never anticipate a dinner party scene involving vibrating panties and a young child that loves objects resembling remote controls. But I'll tell you, set-ups like that were what kept me invested in the mediocre story, it definitely wasn't the manufactured chemistry between the leads.
Everything revolves around our heroine Abby, played by Katherine Heigl. It is definitely a role that she has proved herself willing to portray, the strong-willed, professional beauty left by the wayside in regards to the other sex. She produces a successful morning show that just can't win in the ratings. Her cohorts are as conservative as she, willing to do a piece about the mayor to try and drive viewership back their way, shaking their heads when risqué ideas are batted around. Her boss, however, decides to hire "shock-jock" of sorts Mike who has been cultivating a following on cable access with his insight into the truth about relationships. His callous nature and unwavering ability to say exactly what is on his mind breaths life back into Abby's show despite the trepidation of lowering herself to the kind of television she has always abhorred. She can be swayed, however, once Butler's Mike agrees to play Cyrano to her Christian in wooing her dating checklist approved neighbor Colin. Like that French film, though, and all its many copies, we all know who is really falling in love in the end.
Legally Blonde's Robert Luketic is behind the camera for this one and I'll admit that he tries his best to use the script in order to keep the audience on their toes. With subtle silent tricks, (introducing Mike's nephew and sister in a way to make us completely believe they are his son and wife), as well as a fearless use of language and sexual innuendo, (bravo to the studio for letting them take the R-rating and run with it), definitely got this guy—as in me—to stay alert while awaiting the next comedic gag. And while I didn't quite believe the romantic chemistry between Butler and Heigl, their relationship as buddies worked swimmingly. The beginning of their pact—to get her Colin and he respect on the set—where Mike coaches her on how to recover from the desperate call for a date is paced perfectly and acted just right. His over-zealous confidence and her naivety to it all becomes a great one-two punch. One that works just as well when she turns the table by proving she can flirt after a very funny shopping sequence where Mike is the one approving her wardrobe.
And it's that aspect that worked for me too, seeing the guy be the relationship guru for the girl. Sure you want to think that he is wrong, you want to take offense to things he is saying as a guy—willing yourself to believe that he isn't speaking about you—but the sad truth is, it's all probably not that far off. He is so right when he says he doesn't understand romance or love, but that he is a master at lust and manipulation. His methods work and they are foolproof, but as we realize towards the end, along with Abby, the bond they acquire is never lasting. If you have to be a generic type to win someone's heart, well, you will never be happy. The ugly truth, therefore, is that dating is hard and relationships take work, but if you aren't honest with yourself or your significant other, it is all a lie that will only end in heartbreak.
I'd like to give some credit to the supporting cast, but, frankly, they aren't on screen very much. This is the Katherine and Gerard show through and through. John Michael Higgins and Cheryl Hines do their best to steal some thunder, yet, thinking back, their most successful moments are a result of reactions to what Butler and/or Heigl did. If there was one guy that I really enjoyed in the background, and he is very quietly effective here, it would be Jesse D. Goins. His brief seconds of screen time, with either a facial expression or quick quip, are gold. The rest of the movie does rely on the stars and I applaud them for doing an admirable job. Why Butler needed to fake an American accent is beyond me, (his face just looked weird as he tried so hard to hide the Scottish), and Heigl's smugness rubs me the wrong way every time, but I was able to look past those crutches. If I could give The Ugly Truth any words of encouragement, it would be that my girlfriend loved it. So, if it fires on all cylinders for the demographic it's marketed to, and kept me laughing enough to forget how mediocre the actual story was, I guess, when all is said and done, it does do a pretty darn good job.