At The Movies 07.31.09
 
This is Ron Salfen, “At the Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film starting today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :                               
 
            “The Ugly Truth” is the name of Mike’s program, the new shock-jock on local television.  Supposedly, he’s a man’s man talking to men about how their baser instincts really are their true selves, much to the disgust of Abby (Katherine Heigl), his program director who has to put up with him because the station needs the ratings.  She inexplicably heeds his advice about her own dating habits, since her “checklist method” hasn’t seemed to land the perfect man yet.  Colin (Eric Winter) seems to have all the qualifications---but he’s been falling for the version of her that is coached by the Neanderthal man. 
            Is it possible to have a romantic comedy with raunch?  Well, there’s a risk.  The classic “chick flick” audience may not appreciate the objectifying of women, nor the crude jokes at their expense.  But the testosterone guys, after some raucous laughter at the ribald humor, will soon realize that the plot is still your basic “rom-com” scenario:  boy meets girl, they can’t stand each other, they reluctantly develop some appreciation for one another, then they seem compelled to each other by some invisible attraction that allows them to ignore all the faults previously observed.
            Katherine Heigl (of “Gray’s Anatomy” fame) belies her clean-scrubbed image with some potty-mouth and sexual innuendo antics (wearing vibrating panties with a remote control button?).  Gerard Butler tries to unleash his adolescent id while realizing that the classy woman in front of him neither wants an uncouth gorilla nor a sweet pretty boy.  But she would like to feel some passion and excitement in her repressed, button-down world. 
            This movie is awkward in many places, and not just because the subject material is edgy for mixed company. (Lots of sexual slang words thrown about as if part of normal daily conversation between men and women who work together on a daily basis----as if the concept of “sexual harassment” did not exist.)  It feels contrived---from the obvious talk-show sets to the blue-screen hot-air balloon moment.  The blue humor is sometimes forced, and unevenly delivered.  The two leads, Heigl and Butler , don’t seem to have much chemistry, nor, for that matter, do Heigl and Winter.  But there is a kind of scatological lightheartedness that can be funny in places, as long as you’re sitting in the company of people who could relax and laugh with you.  Not recommended for your grandmother, or a first date, or children of any age (though it’s supposed to be cute when a 14-year-old boy, Mike’s nephew, happens to overhear prurient words that were not intended for his ears).
            “The Ugly Truth” follows a recent trend of R-rated comedies that talk a lot about sex, but contain little or no nudity.  As if sexuality is mostly between the ears.  Imagine that.
 
This is Ron Salfen, “At the Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM