The Ugly Truth (Review)

The truth is that this romantic comedy falls flat

Jul 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Almost exactly 20 years ago, When Harry Met Sally practically perfected the sympathetic control-freak as romantic comedy heroine. And it takes more than a list-maker with a pretty face to earn the “sympathetic” part of that description.

Katherine Heigl plays Abby Richter, a TV producer overseeing a ratings fiasco of a morning news show. Enter — as both personal and professional complication — new commentator Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), a raunchy public-access cable personality dedicated to shooting down romantic fantasies women might have about one-thing-on-their-mind men. Director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) has a fundamentally strong sense for how to pace this unambitious brand of comedy, as well as how to cast solid comic performers. But the moment never comes when we care about these characters getting together.

While Butler chews through his Glasgow brogue to approximate an American accent, Heigl simply comes off fundamentally chilly; when Mike says it “beats the hell out of me” why he loves Abby, it beats the hell out of us, too. Heigl does prove game enough to tackle what was clearly intended as The Ugly Truth’s big “outrageous” set piece, in which Abby ends up at a business dinner while wearing remote-controlled vibrating underwear. It’s impossible for the moment not to evoke When Harry Met Sally’s legendary deli scene, but in this case it’s just a ridiculous plot contrivance with a risqué punch line.

The Ugly Truth simply doesn’t give us the kind of story where we want to have what she’s having. Grade: C

Opens July 24. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and find nearby bars and restaurants here.