Katherine Heigl as Abby
Gerard Butler as Mike
Bree Turner as Joy
Eric Winter as Colin
Cheryl Hines as Georgia
John Michael Higgins as Larry
Nick Searcy as Stuart
Noah Matthews as Jonah
It’s been a couple of years now since the last he said-she said romantic comedy that someone could feel justified doing another one and feel like its somewhat original. Which is how we get “The Ugly Truth,” where the classic stereotype of the neurotic, uptight, overly analytical control freak Abby (Katherine Heigl) butts heads with crass, id-driven, tell it like it is male chauvinist Mike (Gerard Butler).
You know where this is going, you knew it the minute you saw the first commercial. Two people who dislike each other this much can only end one way in the world of romantic comedies. Abby is a very professional Sacramento news producer who, to her horror, is saddled with Mike’s “Ugly Truth” segment which raises the channels ratings as much as it lowers the tone.
Since it’s clear from the beginning how its going to end, the only real enjoyment can come from the route it takes to get there, and to that end it’s moderately successful. Mike is just self-aware enough to keep his pearls of wisdom from being quite as obnoxious as they should be and Butler more or less pulls off the blue-collar dock worker charm he’s going for. He’s mainly there to say extremely rude things without any modicum of embarrassment and he’s pretty good at that. The only real problem with Mike is that he never really changes he’s more or less the same person at the end of the film as he was at the beginning, and he’s generally proved right about whatever he says. It’s almost like the filmmakers like him so much that can’t come in closer than giving him a wisp of a personal problem.
But that’s okay because he’s completely balanced out in that department by Abby, who is desperate and clingy and controlling and all of the things that women in romantic comedies usually get made out to be, especially successful professional women. To be fair, there are a lot people out there like that in real life clichés are clichés for a reason but that doesn’t make them any easier to care for in a film.
A lot of it has to do with making it believable that Abby could be as alone as she is portrayed to be as obviously in real life no man would turn his nose up at Katherine Heigl. Plenty of men have put up with worse character traits.
Despite her dislike for him, Abby soon takes Mike on as her relationship advisor so that she can land the doctor (Eric Winter) of her dreams by pretending to be someone completely other than she is, usually by the whichever path is the most publicly humiliating for her.
Your taste for bland sniping and humiliation humor will determine how much actual enjoyment you can get out of “The Ugly Truth.” Butler and Heigl have some chemistry, and she’s gotten more than a little practice recently at this sort of thing, but most of it is very tried and true. If you’ve never seen a romantic comedy, or haven’t seen one in a long time, you might like it, there are one or two decent gags, which is more than a lot of these things can manage but that’s about it.