The Ugly Truth (Columbia Pictures, R)

film_ugly-truth_sm.jpgWe’ve all seen the "boy and girl meet and bicker all the time" romantic comedy plot about a million times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Abby (Katherine Heigl) has a problem. She’s stellar at work, but when it comes to her personal life, the lonely heart flames out every time.

After Abby has an encounter with her neighbor Colin (Eric Winter), she’s about to repeat her usual meet-him-and-lose-him pattern. But when Mike (Gerard Butler), a chauvinistic new correspondent on the television show she produces, notices her missteps, he decides to show her the error of her dating ways.

It isn’t long before Mike and Abby are bonding over loves lost and mistakes made and…oh, wait, none of that actually happens. What we do get is Mike telling Abby to completely change who she is, and Abby saying "OK" to all of it because she really wants to hang on to Colin bad.

There are two problems with this scenario. First, there’s no indication that, had Abby simply calmed down and been a bit less regimented during her dates, she wouldn’t have found a guy to date her more than once. And nothing we see from Colin even tells us he’s looking for a woman to cater to his every whim. In fact, he even tells Abby at one point that he likes her because she’s hard to figure out, leading us to believe he’s tired of dating women who are better at the "give him what he wants" thing than Abby.

Second, suddenly falling prey to the standard you-must-alter-your-entire-being-to-get-this-guy-now scheme makes smart, competent Abby seem too desperate. It’s not like she’s really old or unattractive or has never felt the warmth of a man before. This will not be her last shot at partnered, domestic bliss.

The filmmakers aren’t giving us anything new here. We’ve all seen the "boy and girl meet and bicker all the time" romantic comedy plot about a million times. The writers manage to switch the timing around on some of the standard devices of a story like this, but you’ll still know exactly how everything is going to turn out.

Having said all that, Heigl does get props for blazing full throttle through some ridiculous slapstick moments. Even though those instances didn’t make me howl with glee, she totally committed to making them work without letting us see the effort involved. And that is always appreciated. | Adrienne Jones

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