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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Review: The Ugly Truth, dir Robert Luketic (2009)

This film may not seem to be for those chicks who love an iPad-toting intellectual, or for those guys who adore a serious, inquiring mind in a woman. Put aside your mundane expectations, those biases ingrained by lived experience, those quirks of hard-earned habit, those misgivings trained by exposure to reality. This film is - on the surface, at least - about hairy, crass, untutored men and compliant, eager-to-please, besotted women.

At least this is so in the beginning.

What doesn't change from one moment to the next is the film's assumption that girls are just as desirous of a roll in the hay as their rougher contemporaries. But they don't call 'em the fairer sex for nothing.

In the red corner stands Abby Richter (Katherine Reigl, pic), a TV news producer with high standards, exceptional morals, and clean underwear. Abby is looking for That Guy but her show's daily ratings are trending downward, causing the station's managers to bring on-board Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), a heathenish, pussy-seeking ratings device wrapped in a rough, manly exterior.

Mike's credentials, professionally, are his successes running a cable-TV show called 'The Ugly Truth' where he gives lonely women pointers on how to nab that ideal fella. In his world, guys give not a fig about brains and romance. They're in it for one thing, and one thing only.

And I don't need to tell you what THAT means, vidiers. As long as she's wrapped in lacy underwear and is willing to apply her orifices to achieving his physical satisfaction, this brand of femininity will undoubtedly get the guy of her dreams.

They're off to a rocky start, with Chadway scheduled to appear on Richter's nightly news show. Forced to run the same race, the sparks fly. But lovable Chadway gets the job done. Ratings soar. Richter begrudgingly acquiesces in the new regime of Bonobo monkey orgies and cherry-jelly girl-on-girl wrestling.

She also starts to allow her lumbering anchor to give her tips on getting next-door's ever-so-available doctor, Colin (Eric Winter), to toe the love line.

Romantic comedy can be tiresomely off-base when you're asked to buy into a screed. The Ugly Truth spins a line, but there's enough reality - spiced by references to vaginas - to keep things running on rails, rather than heading off into la-la land.

Richter's vagina stars in the central scene, where the horny producer (unbelievably; it pays not to ask for too much reality with this film) slips on a pair of vibrating panties just before heading out to a work dinner party. When a curious child picks up the remote control device for the stimulating underwear, Richter credibly fakes a stand-up orgasm as her colleagues look on.

Fun times, fellers.

Fans of Shakespeare will remember The Taming of the Shrew and others of the bard's comedies, where strong, articulate women face off against their intellectual equals of the male persuasion. Given these precedents, the ending is hardly a surprise. What's suprising, though, is how happy you are that the two finally see eye-to-eye on love.

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