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Picture Perfect Untruths

By Elvis D Silva
September 11, 2009 10:28 IST
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If one of the posters for The Ugly Truth is to be believed, women experience love with their heads while men approach the whole enterprise from a place further south on their anatomy charts.

Now this is an American movie claiming American realities and while it would be safe to suggest that men all over the world can behave like pigs let's just, for the sake of this review, decide that all men are not created equally unpleasant.

So this is a movie about Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) a 'control freak' (such an American term that) producer of a Sacramento-area news show who is having trouble balancing her desire for creative control with the TV station's needs for improved ratings. One evening, after an uncomfortable date, she encounters a cable television show called The Ugly Truth hosted by one Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler, yup Leonidas himself). On this show Mike dispenses wisdom about what men really want from their dates and/or relationships. Needless to say an offended Abby calls in to his show to tell him off, fails, and then to add insult to injury he hangs up on her.

The very next day at work, her boss informs her that Mike has been hired to do short segments during the show she produces, as a way to boost ratings. Don't you just love how coincidences work out?

Now of course Abby and Chadway don't see eye-to-eye on the whole man-woman thing and while he is totally up to the task of bursting her bubble about her 'ideal man' she comes up a little short while trying to beat him at his own game.

Now just to muddy the waters up a little bit, Abby meets a guy who conforms to her list of requirements from an ideal man. Only trouble is Mike is quite certain she will ruin her chances with this guy if she behaves the way she always has with each and every one of her previous dates. So she goes out with this other guy Colin (Eric Winter) and follows Mike's instructions on how to behave, what to wear and how far to go before going 'all the way' -- if you catch my drift.

Now this is a romantic comedy so naturally, against all the odds (him being a boor and her being uptight aren't really life-threatening conditions if you ask me) Mike and Abby find out they have a thing for each other.

What happens next?

Come on, haven't you been paying attention?

What do you think happens next?

A movie like this should be judged by the amount of giggles it induces and on that count The Ugly Truth fares pretty well. Butler may have let himself go physically (he is nowhere near the ripped physical perfection he displayed in 300) but he still has a strong masculine presence, which is a welcome relief from the overly sensitive man-boys who tend to inhabit movies like this. He also brings an easy likeability to this character so I can imagine audiences rooting for him.

The leading lady however (hard though she tries in varying stages of undress, and appearing to have lost significant amounts of weight) is a tad annoying. Ms Heigl never quite leaves her Lisa Kudrow-lite schtick behind and she falls short of the lovability that characterised Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore or Sandra Bullock's appearances in movies of this kind. So one doesn't really care if the lead pair gets together or not.

The Ugly Truth is not a bad movie. It just isn't very likely to rank among the greatest romantic comedies of all time.

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Elvis D Silva