DVD Review: The Ugly Truth

All men are really dogs trying to get women to disrobe. All women really are mushy romantics, hopelessly waiting for Mr. Right. If ladies would just wear tighter clothes and grow longer hair, dating would be easy.

Phew! Once The Ugly Truth gets all those conventional male-female jokes out of the way, it’s time for the real story. The film, which was just released on DVD, features Katherine Heigl as Abby Richter, aka the Most Uptight Woman on Earth. High-strung and perpetually single, the pretty news producer is great at her job, but terrible at finding love.

It’s a massive leap of faith to imagine the statuesque Heigl — who’s even pretty in scrubs — having a hard time reeling in the menfolk, but her portrayal of Abby is so spot-on awkward that at times it’s hard to watch. Her “spazzy dance” over her dreamboat neighbor is cringe-worthy, and her checklist discussion at a dinner date inspires her companion to quickly order a stiff drink. (Viewers might want to take his cue.) What kind of man could possibly fall for this Type A goofball?

Enter firebrand relationship guru Mike Chadway, played by an accent-suppressing, scruffy Gerard Butler. When Mike joins Abby’s show, he incites her ire with his misogynistic diatribes and penchant for naughty jello fights. Their battle ends, though, when Abby takes his dating advice, and learns that the lewd talker might have a point. What unfolds next is predictable, and almost as sweet as one would hope — but not quite as sweet as it needs to be after Abby’s dorky antics and Mike’s cliched lines about what men want.

The Ugly Truth’s DVD has a handful of extras for those in search of a bigger payoff than the movie alone offers. One of the better features is a pleasant gag reel that reveals Butler as a happy-go-lucky guy who’s prone to giggling in take after take, while another segment takes us behind the scenes with the cast, director, and screenwriters who pontificate about the film and true love. It’s a mixed bag, though: It’s cool to see that the women who wrote the film are laid-back, regular people (if not a little too lax with their talking points), but the depth of substance is questionable.

All the extras combined can’t quite deliver the sucker-punch of manipulated emotion that’s essential to romantic comedy. While The Ugly Truth has its cute moments and laudable stars, it’s too tenuous to fall in love with it, warts and all.

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