Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Ugly Truth

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Adult
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content and language
Profanity:Very strong language, some crude
Nudity/Sex:Very explicit and crude sexual references and situations, vibrating panties (activated by child)
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:July 24, 2009

There is little chemistry between co-stars Katherine Heigel and Gerard Butler in this charmless war of the sexes story, but there is even less chemistry between the two genres it tries to combine, the romantic comedy (sunny pop song over opening credits, cute meet, conflict with some sparks of attraction, makeover sequence) and the outrageous sex farce with many raunchy references to sex acts and body parts.

Heigel, whose wholesome beauty worked effectively as a raunch repellent in “Knocked Up,” here plays Abby, a typical romantic comedy heroine — romantically idealistic but a little controlling to make up for her insecurity. She is the producer of a low-rated Sacramento morning show featuring a married couple (John Michael Higgins and Cheryl Hines) who are all perkiness on camera but snipe at each other off air between segments. To improve ratings, she is forced to add Mike (Butler) to the show, a guy from cable access who believes that both men and women need to understand that everyone will be happier if they just acknowledge that we are essentially animals. So, men may pretend they want to respect women but all the time they are listening sympathetically and making romantic gestures they are only hoping to [insert sex act here].

Abby despises everything Mike stands for. But when she meets her very own Dr. McDreamy, a man who has all ten attributes on her check-list, she enlists Mike’s help in bagging him. He tells her to be unavailable, laugh a lot, wear skimpier clothes, never complain (“Even constructive criticism?” she asks in disbelief), and wear lacy, remote-controlled vibrating underpants, which he thoughtfully provides. So we are subjected to a scene in which a child finds the remote control and clicks it on and off and ON and OFF just as Abby is at a restaurant with Mike, Dr. Perfect, and some big shots from corporate.

One scene lurches into the next with no sense of moving toward anything. For a movie like this to work, we need to believe that the parties will come out of their opposing corners and make some progress toward the big clinch. Heigel and Butler seem to be watching the clock, as uncomfortable with their unlikeable characters as we are. The truth may not be ugly, but this movie is.

  • Mike

    “One scene lurches into the next with no sense of moving toward anything.”
    How did you come to this statement? Abby is trying to figure men out, Mike helps using various methods, and we see one date involving a baseball game. The unplanned dinner allowed McDreamy as you called him (that’s funny) to come back into the fold. I could say other things, but that would spoil things that were not in the trailer.
    Enjoy San Diego!

  • Allyson

    Movie Mom, based on my liking of Heigl from movies like Knocked Up and 27 Dresses, I was actually going to check this one out, therefore I’m glad I read your review to spare myself. Seems like another run-of-the-mill rom-com with no brain, like the very disappointing and predictable Made of Honor. Just you describing scenes such as the vibrating panties at dinner make me want to roll my eyes and say ‘Like that would ever happen’. Also thanks for the heads-up on this, I think I will skip it.

  • Your Name

    I just saw the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” — it was one of the only romantic comedies I’ve ever seen— didn’t like it. I just think there’s no way you can write cliche’s of men’s and women’s relationship’s well.

  • Nell Minow

    Hi, Mike! I understand the basic structure of the story. What I meant was that there is no psychological logic to make that progression of feelings and changes of heart believable.
    Your Name, “He’s Just Not That Into You” tried to take a different and more honest approach than most romantic comedies, which may be why it did not make more money at the box office.
    Allyson, I think you’re making a wise choice! You might like the bittersweet love story, “500 Days of Summer.”

  • Mike

    Nell, that makes sense now and I would agree with that.

  • Bruce

    Usually I agree with you. First I am a male 65 yr old and happily married for 43 years so perhaps that has warped my ability to determine romantic comedies but for a mindless 1 and a half hours of fun, I thought this was OK. Yes there are no surprises but are there really in romantic comedies? I thought it was a good – for that type of movie. I am enjoying the current trend in movies that men can be smart, loving (his interaction with his nephew) and are not understanding today’s liberated woman. The character was discouraged by the easy woman in today’s society and was actually charmed by the hero (woman) by her standards – but disappointed when he found out – on the surface she appeared to be no different than the other woman – wanting surface beauty in the men – not understanding and loving. I was happy they developed this further. There are a lot of men out there that are tired of the trampy girl of today (yes they enjoy the sex – sorry but that is what men do) and would like to go back to the feminine woman. Not barefoot and pregnant but smart, have a career, want a family but have morals and standards. Not all of us are “pigs”. In summary I thought the underlining story of a man who appears to have no respect for woman was actually a “deep” person and not what he appeared on the surface.

  • Nell Minow

    Bruce, I loved your comment! That is what I hoped to find in the movie, so I am glad that is what you saw in it. Thanks very much and I hope you have 43 more happy years!

  • Your Name

    I just saw THE UGLY TRUTH with my 14 year old daughter, a friend of hers, her mom and two 16 year old boys (one of them my nephew – and we sat in the back just because we wanted to see it too NOT to keep an eye on them). Because of the constant sexual innuendo and dialogue, I had to leave the theater! In the country where we live, it is listed as PG 15, and with the girls being 14 and a half and having been told it was a romantic comedy, we decided to see it.
    That same night was the first time I heard about – and after this very uncomfortable situation, I will be checking it from now on. You can imagine how embarrassed I was since it was us who invited them to join us … I’m glad there is this option with a mother’s point of view and not the movie studios. By the way, the trailer doesn’t show the real deal (they spoke about anal and oral sex, masturbation, and of course the vibrating pants. They showed only the “safe” parts so that you would want to go out and buy a ticket!
    As an ADULT, I did find it funny on some of the parts BUT, in a nut shell, THIS MOVIE IS FOR ADULTS!!!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks so much for this very helpful comment! It will really assist parents in making a decision about this film, which was marketed as a light romantic comedy but is much too raunchy for kids. I really appreciate your thoughts and of course agree 100 percent!

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