Bawdy banter sparks ‘The Ugly Truth’

  • By Robert Horton, Herald Columnist
  • Thursday, July 23, 2009 11:08pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

At first glance “The Ugly Truth” bears the hallmarks of what usually gets called a “chick flick”: girly poster, Tracy-Hepburn opposites-attract premise, Katherine Heigl.

But note the R rating accompanying this film. It seems a touch of Judd Apatow-style bawdiness has entered the realm of what the French call the “flick du chick” (they don’t really call it that). After all, Heigl did duty in the Apatow-produced “Knocked Up.”

Sure enough, “The Ugly Truth” brings in the raunch. Heigl plays a Sacramento TV producer whose morning news-talk show is nose-diving in the ratings.

Enter Gerard Butler, as a commentator about love and sex. Although (or because) his ideas haven’t evolved much beyond caveman wisdom, he’s an instant rating hit.

Naturally, Heigl is horrified by this Neanderthal brute. So horrified she immediately begins taking advice from him, “Cyrano”-style, about how she can impress her hunky doctor neighbor (Eric Winter).

Now, like me, you may be wondering whether in the end this prissy control freak will actually become attracted to this reincarnation of Attila the Hun. I wouldn’t dream of giving it away.

As to the raunch, it mostly comes from the direction of Butler’s character. The movie can’t seem to decide whether he’s a retrograde manchild or the only person in the room actually telling the truth. Which is actually one of the more interesting things about this slick, well-produced romcom.

Smoothly guided by “Legally Blonde” director Robert Luketic, “The Ugly Truth” works as a vehicle for its stars. Wide-eyed “Grey’s Anatomy” pixie Heigl is mugging it up like mad, but she’s got undeniable comic skills, even if her character doesn’t make much sense.

Butler established his testosterone bona fides in “300,” so he slips easily into the role of chauvinist blowhard. The actor is so genuinely funny and likable that he tips the movie’s scales toward his argument, even though (I think) the film isn’t exactly endorsing his guide to life.

The third act is sloppy, and the film commits a cardinal sin of screwball comedy by failing to create funny, fully-rounded supporting characters. (Good idea casting John Michael Higgins and Cheryl Hines as TV hosts, but we don’t see enough of them.)

“The Ugly Truth” gets one important thing right: It has lots of rapid-fire banter between the leads. Repartee will carry a so-so movie, and this one squeaks by on a stream of words … R-rated and otherwise.

Talk to us

More in Life

The 2023 Infiniti QX80 has standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive available on all models. (Infiniti)
2023 Infiniti QX80 is powerful and posh

A mighty V8 engine does the work while a luxurious interior provides the pleasure.

Artist Michelle Downes prepares to work on a few canvases in her garage workspace on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at her family’s home in Stanwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Stanwood artist Michelle Downes creates layered dreamscapes in resin

Resin is one part chemistry and one part artistry. Downes combines the two to make art that captures the imagination.

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

Most Read