Expectation can be a funny thing. When I first saw the poster for ‘The Ugly Truth’ directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde and 21), I had zero interest. None whatsoever. Sure, it had King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and the pretty girl who starred in and then trashed Knocked Up, the film that made her a star (Katherine Heigl), but I couldn’t even care to find out what it was about.
But then a friend told me his wife watched it and thought it was pretty good. My brother-in-law then recommended it. A third person (who I can’t recall) suggested I should watch it. And so I found myself watching ‘The Ugly Truth’, all of a sudden expecting it to actually be a great film!
Well, I came out of the cinema perplexed. The film wasn’t as terrible as I had expected when I saw the poster for the first time, but it was miles off the superior romantic comedy I had anticipated when I stepped into the theatre.
I don’t like giving away the plot of any film, so I’ll keep it brief. ‘The Ugly Truth’ (about male-female relationships) is what Gerard Butler’s character spews out unashamedly on his TV show, and Katherine Heigl is a TV producer who tries to prove that his theories are untrue. Think He’s Just Not That Into You but with only 2 characters (yes, I watched that too…).
The film’s biggest problem is predictability. Anyone who has seen more than a couple of rom-coms will be able to guess exactly what happens in ‘The Ugly Truth’ several scenes in advance. Think of the most cliched situations possible and chances are you will see them in this film. There were definitely a few ‘this better not happen next’ moments, followed by ‘I can’t believe it really happened!’ moments.
It does, of course, attempt to separate itself from other rom-coms with the vulgarity and political-incorrectness of the conversations and jokes. More sensitive viewers may be turned off, but the younger generation that grew up on American Pie, Superbad and The 40 Year Old Virgin may find the jokes more down their alley. However, most of the jokes didn’t elicit more than a subdued chuckle from me. It was no more or less funny than your typical rom-com starring Katherine Heigl (eg Knocked Up, 27 Dresses).
So in the end, a bit of a disappointment. I do like the leads and I am a fan of John Michael Higgins (everybody’s second favourite lawyer on Arrested Development, Wayne Jarvis). Some of the ‘wisdoms’ espoused by Butler’s character also ring true to me, as I am sure they will to many other male viewers (and I believe this is probably where the film’s charm lies). But at the end of the day, ‘The Ugly Truth’ is an average, somewhat forgettable film with just a passable laugh quotient.
2.5 stars out of 5
[PS: I kept waiting for the moment where Butler would scream ‘THIS – IS – THE UGLY TRUTH!!’ and then kick Heigl down an endless black pit. Then flex his abs. That alone would have been worthy of 2.5 stars.]