Of all 10 producers credited on "The Ugly Truth," you'd think one of them would have raised his or her hand and said, "Wait a second "? this script is absolute crap. Can't we do better?"
Perhaps the reply would have been, "Do we even need to? We've got Katherine Heigl, and in the bank of current rom-coms, she's pure gold!"
Point taken. But a film cannot get by on star power alone.
Heigl ("27 Dresses," TV's "Grey's Anatomy") assumes the role of Abby, a producer of a TV morning show that's lagging behind in the ratings. She's a control freak who keeps a whistle in her desk, drinks Red Bull through a straw and brings a sheet of "talking points" to her blind dates. Despite her good looks, her personality drives men away.
Although she knows not a Mr. Right who meets all 10 points on her anal-retentive wish list, she believes he's out there, and says as much while calling in to a live, public-access show "? really, live? "? she happens upon by accident. It's called "The Ugly Truth," hosted by the brutish Mike (Gerard Butler, "RocknRolla"), who tells female viewers that all men want "? him especially "? is T&A.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
In 90 minutes or less, you know these two will be playing happily ever after. Good thing her cat stepped on the remote control!
The next day, Abby's boss introduces the station's new hire to inject life into the morning show. It's "? wait for it "? Mike!
"The Ugly Truth" has one scene that made me smile, and another that actually made me laugh. They are two bring-the-house-down bits that earn the film its R rating, with Heigl's vibrating-panties scene providing the highlight, not to mention a showcase for her comic talents, even if it doesn't know when to quit.
However, the movie's biggest problem isn't overstaying its welcome, but its two lead characters: Neither Abby nor Mike are likable. She's a stick in the mud, and he's a stick-it-wherever-he-can. When he agrees to play Cyrano to help her land the affections of a hunky doctor (Eric Winter, "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay") who just moved in to her apartment complex, Abby loosens up, but then realizes in Act 3 that she's not being true to herself. Therefore, her hateful side is the one we're ultimately supposed to get behind.
And what she sees in Mike "? and vice versa "? is anyone's guess. Butler relishes the opportunity to strut and smile, but he could use his Photoshopped "300" physique back. In my pro-Butler wife's words, his character is entirely "repulsive." He's scruffy, with cheeks seemingly stuffed with cotton, and in the requisite bedroom scene, he's pouring sweat "? not the kind that suggests fun in the sack, either, but the kind that suggests a glandular condition, and perhaps even an immediate need for a defibrillator.
Come to think of it, that's exactly the tool director Robert Luketic ("21") should have applied throughout.