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The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 1.5 out of 5

THE success of Judd Apatow comedies such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up was always going to pave the way for imitators. Yet few could have predicted how bad many of them have been.

The Ugly Truth is the latest to try and emulate the mix of filthy adult humour and heart that Apatow pulls off so seamlessly. It even boasts one of Knocked Up‘s leading lights, Katherine Heigl, as star and co-producer.

But the ugly truth is that this battle-of-the-sexes comedy simply can’t cut it as either a satisfying romance or a fun romp. Its problems are manifold and range from the lacklustre, tacky script to the lame, uninspired direction.

Ironically, Gerard Butler and Heigl acquit themselves well in the central roles, and do have chemistry, but their efforts are largely futile as Robert Luketic’s film yields very few rewards.

The film follows single, uptight TV producer Abby Richter (Heigl) whose life is transformed when her bosses decide to hire chauvanistic TV host Mike Chadway (Butler) to boost the channel’s failing ratings.

Abby and Mike predictably hate each other at first, especially in light of his forthright views on women. But when Abby agrees to let Mike help her seduce her next door neighbour (Eric Winter), the two develop a begrudging respect for one another that eventually leads to feelings.

Luketic’s movie may be formulaic and predictable but it still could have worked with a little more care and attention.

Unfortunately, it gets even the genres it’s trying to represent wrong. The jokes are either tacky and unfunny, or borrowed from better movies – with a showpiece moment involving a restaurant orgasm clearly emulating When Harry Met Sally.

The plotting, meanwhile, is extremely contrived, while the characters are pretty mundane. There’s absolutely no complexity beyond the banter, providing audiences with no one to really root for.

Heigl’s Abby is ditzy and irritating (her repeated dancing on the spot a nauseating case in point), while Butler’s progression from brash sexist to Mr Sensitive fails to ring true.

The humour, meanwhile, can’t decide whether to really go for it in the filthy stakes, or play it kind of safe. It ends up fluffing both opportunities and winds up tasteless and misguided instead.

A CGI heavy finale aboard a hot air balloon capably sums up the movie’s complete failure to entertain – it feels fake and is filled with a lot of hot air.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 96mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 8, 2010