Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Ugly Truth

October 22, 2009

I had high hopes for "The Ugly Truth." Really, I did. Not 'I'm sure this is going to be an instant classic' kind of high hopes, but just the simple 'I'm up for enjoying some mindless, fun entertainment for the evening' kind of high hopes. You know, the kind of expectations one might reasonably expect from a fluffy, popcorn sort of a romantic comedy.

Romantic comedies are not everyone's cup of tea, but I have been known to be drawn to them now and again. This particular one, however, was neither romantic nor comedic, if the ugly truth be told. Oh, it wanted to be; it simply failed in its endeavor. Though Kathrine Heigl is a lovely actress, and there's nothing wrong with spending a couple of hours with Gerard Butler in theory, the characters these two actors inhabited were so uniformly unlikeable, so unapproachable, that the movie was almost painful to watch. Butler's character is a caricature of the boorish, brash, crude stereotypical modern-day caveman. Heigl's character, similarly, is an exaggerated version of the cold-hearted, closed-off control freak of a woman who is badly in need of being 'broken' by the aforementioned caveman.

There are those who would say that opposites attract, and therefore the plot is a plausible one. Nope. Sure, there's an element of truth in that old adage, though I tend to think of it as complimentary traits attracting, rather than opposite characteristics. In "The Ugly Truth," the characters have absolutely nothing in common. At their cores, at the most fundamental level they would repel, not attract one another. And yet, these are the characters who are forced uncomfortably and unnaturally into a formulaic mold of boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-hate-each-other, then boy-and-girl-realize-they-are-perfect-for-each-other-after-all. That Heigl's character (the control freak, you remember) is so desperate (suddenly) to find a man that she would, overnight, decide to entrust her romantic life to a man she loathes is simply unbelieveable. Even more implausible? We are to believe that her grand epiphany that it is Caveman himself she belongs with, rather than the seemingly perfect guy-next-door she's been pursuing, stems from the fact that at dinner, she realizes that he, too, believes that tap water is just as 'pure' as bottled water. Really? REALLY???

So why did I stick with it? Turn it off, you say! Find something more productive to do with your time! I suppose the answer is that I'm an optimist at heart. I wanted it to get better. Really, I did. I wanted to enjoy it. Yes, romantic comedies are formulaic. Yes, there will be some suspension of disbelief involved as the characters make their emotional way toward one another. I'm okay with all that; I ENJOY all of that. Who doesn't like a little escapism every now and again? Still, I expect some hint of truth, something to which I can relate in my escapism. Why delve into those worlds if not to fantasize that we, too, can find that sort of happily ever after? The Ugly Truth is, though, I wouldn't for a minute want to inhabit the world those characters live in. At the end of the movie, I was more than happy to escape back into my own world.


  1. I saw this one too.

    I totally agree with you. Where are the "good" romantic comedies? The ones where you actually want the boy to get a girl and to meet the main male star in real life.

  2. I like a good, not mentally challenging rom-com too. Key word there being, "good". What annoys me about movies like you describe (I have not seen it) is that it goes back to the fact that movie companies think the general public needs everything laid out for them in the most glaringly obvious ways. In other words, they insult our intelligence and expect us to pay for it! Which I still do, it's just annoying!

  3. I'm not a romantic comedy fan, I think the last romantic comedy I watched all the way through was Benny And Joon. Sad huh?