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The Ugly Truth (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/10/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/16/2009

Ask most males about "chick flicks" and you'll most likely get grumbling responses of dismissal. "Chick flicks" are called "chick flicks" for a reason; they are aimed predominantly at women. Now, the smart "chick flicks" know to include a little something for the guys who, stereotypically, have been dragged to see the movie. But, getting back to that idea of asking men about these films, many would most likely say that they are too delicate (for lack of a better word). These films are often airy and light, and dainty. You rarely find any true rough edges in these movies. That's not the case with The Ugly Truth, an R-rated romantic-comedy which attempts to inject some bravado into a tired formula.

Katherine Heigl stars in The Ugly Truth as Abby Richter, an uptight, workaholic TV producer. She oversees the local morning news show in Sacramento and the show's ratings are on the decline. Due to her hectic schedule and her devotion to her job, Abby rarely has time to date. One day, her boss (Nick Searcy), that he has hired Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), the host of the cable access show The Ugly Truth to be a part of the morning team. Mike's show is brash and bawdy, as he advises women to forget about romance and to focus on the fact that men are only after sex. Having seen the show, Abby immediately dislikes Mike and his ideals, and she hopes that he'll crash and burn. However, his hijinks are an instant hit with the audience and the show's ratings go up. Meanwhile, Abby meets and is immediately attracted to her new neighbor, Colin (Eric Winter). Mike learns that Abby is having difficulty in approaching this new relationship and offers her advice. At first, she rebukes him, but when some of his ideas actually work, she allows Mike to be her guru. Could he have been right all along about relationships?

The Ugly Truth is an interesting experiment which ultimately fails. The story is a mixture of several different old ideas, and they are combined with a modern slant. First of all, we have Abby, the stressed-out A-type woman who doesn't have time for romance. Wow, we've never seen that before. In fact, Heigl seems to be playing the exact same character which she played in Knocked Up, right down to the character's profession. Mike is the adult-as-an-adolescent slacker whose laid-back look on life repulses Abby. Again, not very original. These two are thrown together in a work environment and are immediately at one-another's throats. Mike's outlook on relationships is very similar to the recent He's Just Not That Into You.

But, the movie does try to add two somewhat unique ingredients to that mix. Abby allows Mike to teach her about men. He gives her advice, even when she is on a date with Colin. This nod to Cyrano de Bergerac (with a hint of Roxanne) is a bit different, as we are accustomed to seeing a man give a man advice, not a man and a woman. The movie also pushes the romantic-comedy envelope with its descriptive language. Now, the film is never vulgar, but it takes its R-rating very seriously and you'll be surprised by the number of F-bombs and other words thrown around here. There's also a dinner scene which plays like something out of American Pie. It's almost as if they took the script and asked Kevin Smith to do a dialogue polish.

However, The Ugly Truth clearly has a main goal and it fails to meet it. First of all, the movie isn't very funny. Oh, it tries to push the comedy aspects of its romantic-comedy nature, but many of the jokes fall flat. The only life breathed into that aspect of the film come from supporting players Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins, but even the scenes with these comic veterans feel stale. (Movies like this need quirky side characters, but they simply don't pull it off.) Secondly, I never felt any heat between Abby and Mike. The whole point of the movie is that these opposites will attract, and I simply didn't buy it. For my generation, the ultimate example of this is Dave and Maddie from Moonlighting -- Now that was sexual tension. Here, we know that the movie wants us to cheer for them as a couple, but there scenes together produce no electricity.

Those who are tired of "chick flicks" always playing it safe may enjoy the somewhat raunchy side of The Ugly Truth, but the movie is a disappointment in every other department. Heigl and Butler are both competent in what they do, but they have no chemistry here and the movie suffers for it.

The Ugly Truth misuses Jell-o on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look great and very natural, most notably reds and blues. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is excellent and we can see every pore on the actor's faces. The picture shows off nice depth as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a rom-com, we don't get a lot of audio acrobatics here, but the film opens with a helicopter flying by and filling the rear speakers, as if to tell us that the muscle is there if it needs to use it. The stereo effects are quite good and the in-film music sounds great.

The Ugly Truth Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin we "Select Scenes" COMMENTARY from Director Robert Luketic and Producer Gary Lucchesi. The Disc contains six DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 16 minutes. A few of these scenes introduce new characters and ideas (ie: Mike's friends), but they aren't particularly interesting. However, there a few moments here which illustrate ideas which are only talked about in the final cut. The Disc contains two ALTERNATE ENDINGS, both of which are similar to the final cut, but are both actually better. We get a 10 minute GAG REEL. "The Truth is Ugly: Capturing the Male & Female Point of View" (13 minutes) is a making of featurette which places a heavy emphasis on the cast and characters. There is also a discussion of the story and themes. The piece contains a nice amount of interviews and on-set footage. "The Art of Laughter: A Making of Hilarious Proportions" (16 minutes) looks at the casting and planning of the film and how the characters and actors gelled. There is also a discussion of the type of humor in the film.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long