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.
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.