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Nothing Nice About ‘Ugly Truth’


Men are simple, wanting uncomplicated things like sex without commitment, "incapable of growth, change or progress."

So goes the mantra of Mike, the Cro-Magnon like host of a cable-access show played by Gerard Butler in "The Ugly Truth." An ironic role for a guy who got famous for being ripped and running around causing mayhem in "300," but can now put this effort beside "P.S. I Love You" on the list of lame romantic comedies he's starred in.

Then again, it's a role that allows him to wrestle beautiful women in bikinis in vats of Jell-O, so maybe that's something.

If Mike goes with his gut, claiming to speak the (sometimes ugly) truth, Abby (Katherine Heigl) does anything but. She is a producer of a local morning show in Sacramento who is so uptight she brings talking points to first dates (after first running background checks). We can stop now and you can predict everything that happens for the rest of the movie. If only the filmmakers had.

But no, like them, we soldier on. Abby happens upon Mike's show one night, then learns to her horror the next day that her boss has hired Mike to goose ratings. She cannot stand for this lowering of standards, this affront to women, this huh. He is sort of endearing in a caveman sort of way, come to think of it.

Mike helps coach Abby through a relationship with Colin (Eric Winter), a perfect-man sort - sensitive, a surgeon, likes dogs but is really a cat person. Of course, this adventure involves Mike and Abby getting to know each other better, finding out that each isn't exactly who the other thought and so forth. Hi-jinks abound, like the ill-timed misplacing of the remote control for a pair of vibrating panties.

It's not a matter of wondering where this will all lead. It's a matter of wondering if they'll go so far to employ the use of a hot-air balloon to get there. And the answer is: a resounding yes!

Butler sleepwalks his way through the film, losing whatever momentum he has at the start when he's telling women their best self-help tool is a StairMaster as he dissipates into a puddle of romantic goo. Heigl is a lot more believable as a control freak than when she starts to loosen up a bit. So strong is the quicksand of mediocrity that it sucks down great comic talent like John Michael Higgin and Cheryl Hines, who play a husband-and-wife anchor team. Too bad.

"The Ugly Truth?" That's half right.

Rated R for sexual content and language.

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