Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Eric Winter
Director: Robert Luketic
Running Time: 96 mins
The Ugly Truth is an American film about a dedicated but uptight local news producer who is forced into hiring a bombastic, misogynistic new on-screen talent. However, despite their initial clashes, she begins to learn from his controversial views on men and love to get the perfect man she’s always wanted.
Oh dear. I think I’ve got a new guilty pleasure on my hands. Everything in my bones is telling me that The Ugly Truth isn’t a good movie. It’s predictable, it’s crass, and it’s frankly ridiculous at times. But for some reason, I absolutely loved The Ugly Truth. It may be a preposterous rom-com, but there are a lot of laughs, some surprisingly interesting ideas on romance, and even emotionally captivating drama that I never saw coming.
So, what’s so wrong about this movie that I feel guilty for enjoying it? Well, the fact of the matter is that The Ugly Truth is among the most predictable romantic comedies I’ve ever seen. Not only is it obvious from the beginning that Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler are polar opposites destined to be together, but pretty much every beat of the story is fantastically formulaic, and plucked out of thin air almost against the flow of the screenplay.
Romantic comedies aren’t the place to expect groundbreaking storytelling, but The Ugly Truth really sticks to the formula as closely as it can. And yet, I had an absolute whale of a time watching it.
First things first, the one place where The Ugly Truth seems to diverge from the classic rom-com formula is in its use of crude, rather explicit humour. As fluffy as the overarching story is, there’s a lot of swearing, and a lot more focus on sexual humour than simple romance. And while that all might seem rather crass, it’s actually a breath of fresh air in the rom-com genre.
With its cruder, harsher writing, Gerard Butler and Katherine Heigl go from generic romantic interests into hard-as-nails sparring partners. The pair both put in a fantastic shift in the lead roles, and despite both of their characters being fantastically irritating in the early stages, you do really grow to love them over the course of an hour and a half – and actually want them to end up together.
There’s more to The Ugly Truth than a simple story of someone just looking for love. The point of the movie is a surprisingly more complex look at the nature of love between men and women, from both the most pessimistic and most optimistic perspectives. And with that, some of that generic, often boring romantic magic is gone, and replaced by a refreshing dose of cold-hard realism that I loved.
That being said, much of the plot is absolutely ridiculous. Gerard Butler’s Bergerac-like powers to get Heigl a date by turning her from a driven, detailed career woman into a walking Barbie doll may indeed be based in reality, but it all comes about way too quickly, and way too easily. However, with the comfort of the film’s formulaic story, you can still sit back, turn your brain off, and watch it all unfold with ease.
So, as surprised as I am to say it, I absolutely loved The Ugly Truth. Predictable, formulaic and plainly ridiculous, it has all the ingredients of ‘just another rom-com’, but the movie’s use of harsher, cruder humour, some captivating insights on love between men and women, and determined performances from Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler all go a long way to making the film a genuinely entertaining watch. So, that’s why I’m giving The Ugly Truth a 7.9 overall.