The Ugly Truth

July 24, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Bree Turner
Directed by: Robert Luketic (“21”)
Written by: Nicole Eastman (debut), Karen McCullah Lutz (“The House Bunny”), Kirsten Smith (“She’s the Man”)

A woman who can’t drag her man to any romantic comedies even if her life depended on it shouldn’t feel he’s ignoring her cinematic needs if that rom-com is anything like “The Ugly Truth.” Truth be told, the movie is down-right deplorable and diluted with cheap jokes and dialogue. Although it attempts to disguise itself as something with a conscious perspective on the chemistry between the opposite sex, the only thing “The Ugly Truth” succeeds in doing is demonstrating why men and women – when looking for love – are as equally annoying.

The three-headed screenwriting monster consisting of Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz, and Kirsten Smith might like to believe they’ve written something unique and groundbreaking in terms of the relationship dynamic they’ve set up here. They’re sadly mistaken. “The Ugly Truth” stars Katherine Heigl (“Knocked Up”) as Abby Richter, a overbearing television show producer in Sacramento whose personal and professional life is nudged quite significantly off track when the station’s director hires a controversial color commentator to join the on-air talent.

Mike Chadwick (Gerard Butler), is plucked from his makeshift studio where he hosts a cable access television show, and handed a much grander platform to spout off his aggressive relationship advice to women who can’t seem to get their love lives in order. Don’t have a boyfriend, ladies? Mike’s advice is to shed a few pounds before you become a lonely spinster. Can’t get a second date? You might want to put out during the first.

It’s all unenlightening gibberish passed off as words of wisdom by the screenwriters and “Legally Blonde” director Robert Luketic. At least in “Blonde,” Reese Witherspoon is a heartbroken ditz who learns she can be independent and happy. In “The Ugly Truth,” Heigl is a desperate airhead who starts taking advices from the one guy she should be trying to avoid.

It all becomes very formulaic and predictable as Abby and Mike start spending more time with each other so he can educate her in the ways of seduction. Most of this is done by borrowing from other romantic comedies, some good, some just as pathetic. Nevertheless, Luketic and crew allow “The Ugly Truth” to become unnecessarily vulgar (a scene where Heigl repeats an expletive is merely for shock value and hardly funny) and misogynistic. If this is the route rom-coms are going to start taking, there’s really no reason for date nights anymore.

The House Bunny

August 29, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Anna Faris, Colin Hanks, Emma Stone
Directed by: Fred Wolf (“Strange Wilderness”)
Written by: Karen McCullah Lutz (“She’s the Man”) and Kirsten Smith (“Legally Blonde”)

With drama happening in the real life Playboy Mansion (if you haven’t heard, word on the street is Hugh Hefner is moving in another bunny and his three girlfriends aren’t very happy about it), it’s great publicity for the new comedy “The House Bunny,” which is being released by Adam Sandler’s production company Happy Madison.

I bring this up because Happy Madison’s track record isn’t one to boast. “Strange Wilderness,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” and “The Benchwarmers” are just a sample of the refuse the studio has put out in the last two years. In “The House Bunny,” not much has evolved except for the addition of more T&A. And even then, the T&A we are talking about is attached to actress Anna Faris, who may look like a Playboy model, but can’t carry a film on her own – at least not with this material.

The story begins by introducing us to Shelley Darlingson (Faris). Once an unwanted orphan, Shelley grows up, gets boobs, and ends up living in the Playboy Mansion along with Hugh Hefner and the other Girls Next Door. Shelley isn’t quite centerfold material, although she has posed in a nude pictorial called Girls with GEDs, but she is happy just being part of the gang of blonde bombshells.

But when Shelley is booted out of the mansion for supposedly being too old (she just turned 27, which is “59 in Bunny years”), she turns to sorority life and tries to become a house mother for a group of unpopular and socially-awkward college girls, whose Zeta Alpha Zeta house is going to be taken from them if they can’t come up with 30 new pledges before the start of the semester.

Cue the predictable and formulaic montages beginning with Shelley teaching the girls about style, how to apply makeup, and how to get guys to notice them. The so-called ugly girls are actually pretty ones hiding behind thick glasses, baggy clothes, and/or any other number of distracting props a la Rachel Leigh Cook in “She’s All That” or Lindsay Lohan in “Mean Girls.” The girls return the favor in a medley of ridiculous scenes by showing Shelly that while boys might be into looks, some, like Oliver (Colin Hanks), a guy who Shelly is crushing on, like girls with a little smarts, too.

It’s no surprise that writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith of “Legally Blonde are behind this cinematic travesty. While “Blonde” had its moments, “Bunny” is a bad rehash of the same story this time with a bit more skin. In it’s basic form, it’s a 97-minute long blonde joke without a noteworthy punch line.