Thursday, August 06, 2009
Ugly of uglies
[A rare bonus review here -- I wrote it for the Telegraph before realising my colleague had already covered it. Feel my horror that I saw this thing for nothing!]
It helps, in a battle of the sexes, when you have a certain sympathy for both sides. “Vive la différence!” cries Spencer Tracy when armistice is agreed in Adam’s Rib, one of the model romantic comedies of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
But who or what are we rooting for in The Ugly Truth? It surely isn’t Katherine Heigl, shaping up as the new Ashley Judd at this point, and harder to like than she’s ever been. It’s not Gerard Butler, whose rugged caveman routine stood him a greater chance of getting some action cruising on the beaches in 300.
Forget that this movie is hollow at the core and appears unacquainted with a human of either gender -- that’s par for the course. It’s worse. It’s been put together with a shiny cynicism that’s almost chilling. It tells us “truths” about male and female mating habits that may have you wanting to seek corrective dating advice from Chris Moyles. It makes The Proposal look like His Girl Friday.
This absolute stinker purports to take place at a TV news station in Sacramento, which doesn’t look much like any TV news station this side of Jupiter. Heigl is the control-freak producer forced to manage her new guest star (Butler), an “übermoron misogynist” who specialises in telling it like it is. Men, you see, are basic. Men want big breasts and lots of blonde hair. Heigl is, of course, single, and scares her dates away. Only after a reluctant makeover involving push-up bras and hair extensions is she any kind of catch.
Rewind for a minute to 2007, when this leading lady famously took a chunk out of her star-making hit Knocked Up, calling it sexist for painting the women as shrews. I see her point, but The Ugly Truth is not the stand I’d have recommended. The swish dinner Heigl attends wearing a pair of remote-controlled vibrating knickers? Not really one in the eye for male chauvinism. Still, if Heigl and Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic were secretly plotting to put you off romcoms for life, they’ve certainly given it some welly. F