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The Ugly Truth (9/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 96 minutes

Not for children.

Although Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler) is intended to be so over-the-top outrageous that he’s funny, most of what he says (save, maybe, for his emphasis on oral sex) makes sense and describes how many men react to a woman so accurately that it should be emailed to every woman around the world.

What he tells Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl, who also gets an Executive Producer credit) is so frank and right on that it is uproariously funny while he’s laying down the rules to her. This was just one of the many places where I laughed out loud.

Volumes could be written about what women don’t know about men. This movie is a prime example, although if you watch it, you won’t realize why. That’s why I’m here.

It was written by three women, Nicole Eastman (who also gets story credit) with help from Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith. Eastman says, “Mike was a completely fictional character I wanted to be as obnoxious and rude as possible, so I can’t believe how much men say they relate to him!” Here’s the creator thinking that she’s writing rubbish coming out of Mike’s mouth when it pretty much captures the way men feel (except, as I stated above, for what these women have him say about oral sex), although they aren’t really as simian as these women created Mike. Agrees Lutz, “I definitely disagree with all his crazy, insane beliefs – and yet somehow I’m completely tickled by Mike.” Talk about out of the mouths of babes (no pun intended)!

These women are creating a guy they think is ridiculous but, apparently unbeknownst to them, what he says is a pretty accurate reflection of the way men feel about relationships and, even more pertinent, how they react to what women talk about. How’s that for ironic? Most men will be in the audience telling their girlfriends, “Yeah, listen to this guy!” The fact that the women who wrote this film still don’t have a clue is as funny as the film itself. But the sad fact is that no woman will listen to anything Mike says and will, thus, continue to completely misunderstand men.

Abby is the producer of a low-rated morning show in Sacramento when Mike is hired to bring up the ratings. He not only brings up the ratings, he raises Abby’s temperature to the boiling point because what he says is directly opposite what she believes in her super-controlled life. When she gets involved with the man of her dreams, Colin (Eric Winter), Mike “helps” her to understand how to hook and reel him in. While what happens may be terribly predictable, it is so well acted by Heigl and Butler and so well directed by Robert Luketic, that it had me almost rolling in the aisles.

Heigl is not only a supremely gorgeous woman (beautifully shot by Director of Photography Russell Carpenter; there’s a close-up of Heigl’s face near the end of the film that is breathtaking; that is, if you’re a guy), she is also a supremely gifted comedienne. Some of the situations penned by Eastman, Lutz, Smith could fall flat if not presented by talented actors and translated by a gifted director.

This is a screwball comedy in the tradition of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. In fact, it’s odd coincidence that this title is so close to the Leo McCarey, Grant-Dunne classic, “The Awful Truth” (1937), because none of the participants even mention that movie as inspiration. Regardless, McCarey, Grant, and Dunne couldn’t have done it better.

Despite the truths they put in Mike’s mouth, they created him to be as much of a Neanderthal as possible, even making him look like an orangutan, always needing a shave, looking hairy and messy (contrasted with Colin, who is always clean-shaven, polite, and well-dressed). Men who aren’t as goofy appearing as Mike still have the same outlook. The women manipulate it to make it look as if men with these opinions are all little more than apes. Forget what he says about oral sex; instead think of the other things he says and therein you will find a lot of truth.

I had seen the trailers before I saw the screening and I wasn’t anticipating much because they make it look charmless and stupid. This is a film that could be done in by poor promotion. So my advice is to ignore the trailers and come see this film if you want some good laughs.

A word of warning; this is an adult movie with adult language and frank discussions of sexual activity. Some could find it offensive. I thought it was hilarious.

Every guy should drag his girlfriend/wife to this movie (not necessarily by the hair). To women I say, go to the film and laugh at what Mike says, but take notes.

July 22, 2009