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The Ugly Truth

I gave up counting the crotch jokes in The Ugly Truth at about the thirty-minute mark. By then, they totaled about eight. (For example, a wife, whose inattentive husband accuses her of being bitter and angry: “That would be my vagina!”)

This kind of scintillating private-parts repartee continues through much of this dismal little smirk and smut exercise, whose creators seemed to have been under the odd impression that they were turning out a romantic comedy. Although, given the quality of some of the recent Hollywood examples of this sturdy genre, this may not be as much of a categorical stretch as it should be.

And yes, I realize I’m probably only encouraging some interest and patronage when I emphasize the movie’s juvenile crudities, but we’re not gatekeepers here. We just call them as we see and hear them and consenting adults are on their own.

For the record, The Ugly Truth centers on the clash of personalities and the sexes at a Sacramento TV station where the prim, freakishly efficient and vaguely virginal producer of a morning show (Katherine Heigl, from TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) is forced to suffer the indignity of having a loutishly blunt public-access cable personality (Gerard Butler) added to her cast in order to pump up anemic ratings. This guy’s been hosting a relationship-advice show on which he tells callers that men are really interested in only one thing, and the gals had better learn to deal with it.

If you can’t guess where The Ugly Truth takes this, you probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a prospectus from a Ponzi-scheme operator. Where in other hands this setup might only produce insipidness, under the direction of Robert Luketic this movie goes for a repetitive raunchiness and derivative ineptitude. It’s really a throwback to the early 1970s when diminishing inhibitions and prohibitions allowed a lot of bad, low-budget, soft-core sex comedies onto the market.

If this movie’s creators have come up with an even mildly inventive bit, I missed it. (In one scene, they rely on some dreary business involving a hidden earphone and some off-site date behavior coaching that may not have been new when mid-fifties TV sitcoms used it. It leads—quelle surprise!—to more crotch humor.)

The most offensive aspect of this ham-handed movie is that its makers seem to want us to believe that their hearts are really attuned to love’s hard-won triumph. If they believe that themselves, they may be among Bernie Madoff’s show business pigeons.

– George Sax

Watch the trailer for The Ugly Truth

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