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Wed July 15, 2009
The Ugly Truth
Gin and tonic
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time," "Cinema Classics," and "On the Marquee"
"And when that I had geten unto me/By maistry all the sovereignetee . . . After that day we hadden never debat!"
Wife of Bath, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
From Chaucer to Apatow, men have always wanted to know what women want (In the bard's case, it was "mastery" over men). So The Ugly Truth is a pleasant summer breeze which looks at what men are and what they want. It's a romcom with witty moments (too few for me):
Mike: You're all about comfort and efficiency!
Abby Richter: What's wrong with comfort and efficiency?
Mike: Well nothing, except no one wants to fuck it.
Its philosophy gently reminds us that although men are from Mars, women may like that just fine, and, whoa, they may not want "maistry."
Katherine Heigl (Abby) is not quite as bright as she was in Knocked Up, but she is as uptight and controlling. Gerard Butler (Mike), the current rage of chick-flick audiences briefly replacing Colin Firth, is not as lovingly attentive as he was In P.S. I Love You.
Although both actors play at a screwball comedy's fast-paced lingo that's not up to the literate caliber of say, His Girl Friday, the attempt is worthy given the paucity of witty comedies this year.
The restaurant scene where Abby has inadvertently worn vibrating panties remotely controlled by an unsuspecting kid at another table is amusing (showing Heigl's chops) but misses the impact of Meg Ryan's fake orgasmic scream in When Harry Met Sally.
Abby is a wound up morning show TV producer faced with supervising a new talent, Mike, whose cable show The Ugly Truth has a big audience that loves his frank talk about men's libidinous natures and women's manipulation. She hates his macho routine, and he tries to change her into an attractive woman. Do you think they'll fall in love? Silly of me to doubt your insight.
While the whole movie is a cauldron of clich?s and expectations, it has a core of truthfulness about the misperceptions between the sexes. It may confirm the suspicion of some like me that hard-core controlling women could soften their "mastering" gene, and men could, well, shift slightly into less lecherous and more sensitive Martians.
It's summer fantasy with ugly truth that goes down as unevenly as a warm gin and tonic.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com