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Saeed Adyan/Columbia Pictures

Ugly to the end

Movies | The Ugly Truth fails to provide any redeeming insight

Issue: "New faces of New Orleans," Aug. 15, 2009

The overwhelming success of director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad) was bound to inspire imitation. The Ugly Truth is a crass romantic comedy that tries and fails to capture the Apatow magic.

Katherine Heigl starred in Knocked Up as a career girl looking for love. She reprises the role in The Ugly Truth as Abby, a morning show producer at a TV station in Sacramento. Unfortunately, her perfect man checklist reads "drinks red wine" and "likes picnics" instead of things like "has integrity" or even "doesn't live with his mother." Her boss brings in a raunchy relationship guru to boost ratings. Mike (Gerard Butler) has a simple philosophy: Men are only interested in specific body parts. Men do not change and do not care about your problems. Only pretty women will get a man.

As much as Mike is a proud and loud pig with women, he's sweet with his fatherless nephew, from which we're supposed to infer he's really a good guy. Sparks inevitably fly.

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The film (rated R for sexual content and language) is vile and coarse in its discussion of sex and dating, but doesn't contain a sex scene until the very end. All the laughs, and there are very few, come from shock at the things Mike says. Supposedly trying to reach some level of insight, the film instead feels like it was written by a foul-mouthed 14-year-old.

There's a reason Apatow is such a success. An Apatow movie is even coarser, but it distracts the audience with laughter and then unexpectedly wallops them upside the head with profound insight. The Ugly Truth has neither the humor nor the insight. The viewer is left with only empty crudeness.

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