For an actress trying to escape her Grey's Anatomy rut and carve out a movie career, Katherine Heigl has been awfully quick to dive into another rut, this one on the big screen.
Just three romantic comedies into her leading-lady status she has displayed a range that ventures from A to B, done two movies in which she's played TV producers, and claimed that potty-mouthed-girl-next-door title all to herself.
What she hasn't done, not often enough anyway, is charm.
The Ugly Truth gives us Heigl as Abby, a lonely producer who collides with her struggling morning show's desperate new feature — a swarthy, crude and blunt advice-to-the-lovelorn caveman whose segments promise to tell "The Ugly Truth" about men and woman.
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Gerard Butler is Mike, the boorish lout who tells women that "men are simple." His advice? "It's called a StairMaster. Get on it!"
The obvious direction this obvious Robert Luketic film (with script by Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith) is to pair the "misogynist's misogynist" with a boss who loathes him and let the sparks fly. Instead Abby, a control freak who brings "talking points" on dates, inexplicably turns her love life over to this creep in an effort to attract the pretty-boy doctor who has moved in next door. Mike's giving her advice through an earpiece; she, for reasons the movie ignores, takes it.
Butler has a funny way with a line and a natural comic virility, something Heigl's previous leads (Seth Rogen and James Marsden) lacked. But they don't click as a couple, perhaps because they're kept apart by a wordy script overloaded with blue banter.
The Ugly Truth's money moment is a variation on the When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene involving electrically wired underwear, and Heigl plays the heck out of it. Plainly, she has identified her niche (Knocked-Up, not Sex and the City) and seems intent on pandering to her crowd.
But the ugly truth is: She still isn't a Sally anyone will cry over, no matter who plays her Harry.