The Ugly Truth (2009)

(On TV, March 2015) There’s a fine line between being irreverent and obnoxious, and The Ugly Truth often walks on the wrong side of it.  The premise has a bit of sparkly potential, as a TV producer meets an abrasive shock-jock with a specialty in realpolitik relationship advice.  The rest is straight out of the romantic comedy playbook, with generally likable performances from Katherine Heigl and Gerald Butler in the lead roles, neither of them straying too far from their usual screen persona.  The problem is Butler’s love-burnt cynical character, who too-often comes across as repellent –the script makes a point to present an even worse replacement character near the end, but it’s a bit too late by that point to make a difference.  The script has a dearth of amusing or memorable moments, often needlessly twisting itself into familiar shapes in order to deliver even-more familiar payoffs.  The material plays vulgarly blue a bit too often, without payoffs either in sexiness or humor. (Surprisingly or not, this often-crass, even-more-often-misogynistic script was penned by three female screenwriters.) It often feels like wasted material: wasted lead actors, wasted effort, all in the service of something that doesn’t rise above mediocrity.  Still, and this is an important “still”, The Ugly Truth has the advantage of working within a congenial sub-genre: Romantic comedies, even when they are not very good, are usually just likable enough to pass the time pleasantly.  So it is that The Ugly Truth barely gets a passing grade on the strength of a formula perfected in better movies, and actors that are capable for much better.

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