The ugly truth about shock jocks and uptight women

2009-10-12 00:00

IN many respects, the truth about relationships may appear ugly, but as always the debate surrounds the question of whose truth we are talking about.

In the case of The Ugly Truth I get a distinct impression that this is a vehicle to liberate Gerard Butler from his Spartan hell (remember 300?) and to broaden his range into other genres. I have sympathy for the guy and kudos to him for entering into a role that is self-parody of his testosterone -laced body of work. In this romcom he plays a television shock jock, dispensing advice on relationships. For the rugged Marlboro man, the advice is simple. The only way for a woman to land a man is by playing the sex game. Gone are the metrosexual sensitivities and in with a healthy dose of chauvinism. Of course, Mike meets his nemesis in the form of Abby (Katherine Heigl), the producer of his show.

The dialogue is snappy and the numerous guffaws and embarrassed giggles from the audience are evidence of its resonance with popular culture.

Strangely, the supposedly intelligent and attractive Abby doesn’t have the slightest clue of how to keep a man. Reluctantly, she follows Mike’s advice on how to woo the improbably chiselled doctor next door. Herein lies the key flaw of the film. Abby is two-dimensionally sketched as the stereotypical woman that guys love to hate. She is a control freak, even running background checks on prospective partners. If women were really this shallow, I don’t think men would have ever left Mars.

Mike, on the other hand, is treated sympathetically as we get to discover that his cynicism derives from multiple failed relationships and his outward bravado is merely a front for his inner fears. When Abby falls for him instead of her doctor it rings true.

Butler carries the film with his charm, suggesting there may be a future for him in comedy. Heigl, on the other hand, is hamstrung by the way her character is written, but her encounter with vibrating panties is likely to take its place alongside Meg Ryan’s restaurant orgasm in When Harry met Sally. The Ugly Truth is good for a mindless giggle.

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