One would not call me a relationship expert. I would not, anyway. While I am currently pursuing a different path, had it worked differently with the women with which I have been involved, things would be different. This is not intended as nostalgia or, worse yet, regret. Instead, I am trying to establish my modesty credentials, if you will, for this review of The Ugly Truth (2009). With a title like this, you can guess that the film attempts to present an honest approach to interactions between men and women. The simplest way to put this is that all men care about is sex, while women want deeper connections. Still, if this were the only theme covered, you would not have much of a movie. Actually, there is not much here either way, and it is quite derivative. Yet, there it was on the streaming services (I forget which), so I took a look.
We start with the feminine side of things in The Ugly Truth with Abigail “Abby” Richter (Katherine Heigl). She is a producer of a once successful morning news show that has been flagging in the ratings. Her boss, Stuart (Nick Searcy), blames it on her decisions to air stories that seem increasingly passé. His suggestions are not appreciated as she enjoys the control she has over content. Control is a problem for her in her personal life as well. Unsurprisingly, having her assistant do a background check on her dates does not endear them to her. Coming home after another failed romantic rendezvous, she turns on the television to find the eponymous program. Hosting it is Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler). The things that he has to say about women, and the way he presents them on-screen, shocks her. So incensed is she by what she is hearing that she calls the show live to argue with Mike. That does not go well, either. The horror continues for her when she goes to work the next day and finds that Stuart has hired Mike to do a segment on her morning news show. Not everything is going poorly, however. Moving in next door is Colin Anderson (Eric Winter), an orthopedic surgeon and everything she could hope for in a man. She even recovers from a rather awkward first meeting with him. The reason for this awkwardness has much to do with her desire to prove that Mike’s ideas on relationship are incorrect. At work the next day, Mike can tell that Abby is flustered, and he correctly guesses the reason. Their traded barbs over the issue lead to an ultimatum: he will help her in pursuing Colin. If successful, she will get off Mike’s case. If he fails, he will leave her morning show. There then follows a series of dates between Abby and Colin, all of which are carefully monitored by Mike (one might say he is stalking them, but it is invited, so . . . no?). Everything that Mike has Abby do is in some way related to accentuating her sexuality, a tactic he believes is the only one to truly capture Colin’s interest. As this escapade goes on, Mike begins to garner more acclaim for his off-color antics, causing Stuart to want to see Mike have a larger role. As per the usual for these flicks, it causes Mike to begin to develop feelings for Abby, and the feeling is somewhat mutual, though she is the last one to admit it. What begins to soften her is when she discovers that he is close to his nephew, and that he had once been married. In other scenes, it is apparent that his experience with his ex-wife is the event responsible for Mike’s awful views on women. He also does not preach them to his nephew. Regardless, the real turning point is when, following an appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (himself), Mike gets an offer to work for another network. Stuart immediately sends Abby to try and convince Mike to stay. This is slightly inconvenient for her because she had planned a romantic weekend with Colin. That rendezvous is soon forgotten as they wine and dine, and dance the night away, leading to Abby and Mike kissing in the elevator. Before matters can get too hot and heavy, they go to their separate rooms. Abby gets to hers and finds that Colin has surprised her by arriving unannounced. Of course, this is when Mike comes calling, hoping to continue their tryst. When Mike sees Colin, he takes Abby for the player he had been training her to be and leaves. Back home, Mike also quits the station and takes up with one of his former channel’s competitors. Stuart attempts to replace Mike with a pale imitation thereof, but it is of little use. This pretender’s ineffectualness is in the spotlight when both stations are sent to cover a local hot air balloon festival. Mike is there, too, and Abby kicks his replacement out of the basket in order to confront her would be lover. Having it all on camera, they predictably hash out their differences, admit their true feelings, and have their conciliatory kiss. The last we see of them is on the ground, and in bed.
This conclusion to The Ugly Truth would seem to fit more with Mike’s picture of what guys want from women. After all, as is repeated a number of times, all guys think about is sex. Hence, in the end, he gets what he wants. There are a number of other inappropriate moments in the film that I am sure comes as no shock if you read the above synopsis. Most of them can be boiled down to the worst relationship stereotypes you can name. At its most innocuous, the notion is put forward that the perfect partner must be “a saint and a sinner.” This is a bunch of modern nonsense, and not a Christian point of view. The sinner part comes from our society being far too focused on sex. At times when I was dating, when others found out (even close friends) that I was not having sex with the women I was with, they were taken aback. It was almost as if I had insulted them. I will not get into what the Catechism says about sex before marriage. Instead, what I will preach is that the saint part is what we should strive for more in all our dealings with people, not solely those with which we are romantically involved. There is another unfortunate stereotype out there, and one that Mike seems to believe, that nice guys finish last. We believe garbage like that because if we do not see the rewards for our good deeds in this life, we tend to view it as a punishment. Further, when Mike begins behaving more like a gentleman, he gains more points with Abby. Strange, huh? Either way, with or without interactions with the opposite sex, avoiding sin will have far greater rewards.
Why did I watch The Ugly Truth? I could not tell you. I suppose I ran across it on streaming services, shrugged, and put it on. It is a pretty standard romantic comedy, though I could do with a lot less innuendo. If you are in the mood for another title with far more class, watch Midnight in Paris (2011).