The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth

Ah, the rom-com, aka the romantic comedy. As a genre it has been brilliant and interesting and at times seriously funny. The best rom-coms were made by Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn and later by Rock Hudson and Doris Day. There have been others, but not recently. Most have been shallow and inane, with titles such as "Bride Wars," "The Proposal" and "27 Dresses' coming to mind.

What is surprising about "The Ugly Truth" is that it was written not by one or two sawdust-for-brains male Hollywood screenwriters suffering from arrested development, but by three women who clearly made the decision to unveil a whole shopping list of stereotypes and silliness resulting in a film that is, well, terminally dumb. What a waste of good talent.

Who should see this movie? Pray not those who are searching for factual information about courtship or insight into the existential tribulations of dating in the early 21st century. "The Ugly Truth" is pure science fiction, and the interactions that are depicted are so far removed from real life and authentic situations as to put them on another planet. None of this resembles how men and women meet and come to care about each other.

According to the writers, accomplished professional women such as Abby (Katherine Heigl), a television producer, are controlling and domineering, have no luck with men, hence no sex life. And the reason they're domineering and frustrated and so take charge is that they lack serious sack time with a man who will have the, well, lets say stones (not the word used often and descriptively in this film) to take charge. What these women need for contentment, according to this modern myth, is a Visigoth such as Mike (Gerard Butler), spouting sexual innuendos or blatant references to male/female body parts, while claiming on his cable TV show to be an expert on courtship. A man who is rude, crude and generally loutish. That'll do the trick.

Meanwhile, Abby must learn to suppress her intelligence, her talents, and her opinions while pointing her pushed-up breasts cum cleavage in the direction of any attractive male, as if that will get her what she wants: a man so she can say, eyes welling with tears, "You complete me." She does have a doctor in mind, Colin (Eric Winter), who recently moved into her apartment complex. For reasons that defy understanding, she allows Mike to tutor her in the art of landing the doc. It's a pathetic "Cyrano de Bergerac/Roxanne" moment.

And somewhere embedded in all this nonsense is the suggestion that bad boys such as Mike can be changed. It'll just take some work by the right woman. That's an urban legend that doesn't seem to go away. There's not enough time or therapy to change Mike with his three weeks growth and bad manners. But then it may also be an urban legend that professional women such as Abby would give a bore such as Mike even a first glance. And yet she does, eventually (remember, they're oil and water for all of act one and two) sensing that behind that fašade of self-absorbed behavior is really a broken-hearted, sensitive soul who only needs understanding. Good grief.