The Ugly Truth (R) no stars

Gerard Butler is the boorish Cyrano to Katherine Heigl's love-struck dope. SAEED ADYANI / SONY PICTURES

By Rene Rodriguez, The Miami Herald

For a movie aimed primarily at a female audience, The Ugly Truth seems strangely intent on setting the women’s movement back three or four decades. Here is a film in which Abby (Katherine Heigl), a smart, professional, attractive TV producer, must resort to taking dating advice from Mike (Gerard Butler), a misogynistic, boorish Dane Cook-wannabe with a cable access TV show, in order to woo her hunky next-door neighbor Colin (Eric Winter).

Abby is so clueless when it comes to relationships that she can barely dial a phone number without asking for help. Mike is a seen-it-all veteran of the dating wars who is supposed to be some kind of genius because he’s unafraid to point out that most men would rather watch two women Jell-O-wrestling, for example, than sit through a five-star meal with a violinist playing at their table.

The plot of The Ugly Truth — which, for the record, was written by three women — has Mike serving as a high-tech Cyrano to Abby, feeding her lines via an earpiece, teaching her how to dress and telling her what not to do as she starts dating Colin.

Director Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde, Monster-In-Law) seems to have gone out of his way to shoot his leads from the most unflattering angles, and he is careful never to let anything resembling charm or wit creep into the painfully formulaic story. The film’s comic high point is a restaurant scene in which Abby’s vibrating panties (one of Mike’s ideas) go haywire while she’s having dinner with her bosses. The film’s comic low point is every other scene.

Heigl, who also served as co-executive producer (with her mother!), had the temerity to decry Knocked Up as sexist shortly after its release. Is this her idea of a corrective? The Ugly Truth is insulting to women, men and even goldfish. There isn’t a single moment that bears a remote resemblance to real life. This is an artificial, antiseptic movie about artificial, antiseptic people.

Say no to Hollywood hackery and cynical, demographic-courting filmmaking. Say no to movies made by people who condescend and treat you like bleating sheep. Say no to films so radioactively, offensively awful they could cause permanent damage to your thought processes and genetic DNA. Say no to The Ugly Truth.

Cast: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter, John Michael Higgins, Bree Turner.

Director: Robert Luketic.

Screenwriters: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith.

Producers: Steven Reuther, Kimberly di Bonaventura, Deborah Jelin Newmyer.

A Sony Pictures release. Running time: 95 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, coarse humor, adult themes. Playing at area theaters.


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