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.

21

March 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jim Sturgess, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth
Directed by: Robert Luketic (“Legally Blonde”)
Written by: Peter Steinfeld (“Be Cool”), Allen Loeb (“Things We Lost in the Fire”)

It might be based on a true story, but somewhere in its two hours of drawn out card tricks and casino hopping, “21” gets so unrealistic and immature it busts.

This just might actually be how director Robert Luketic likes to work. He did the same with Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde” and no one can forget the insanely childish and unfunny slapping scene between Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez in “Monster-in-Law.” Sure, we might believe that a sorority girl with no law experience could be accepted to Harvard or that an in-law could purposely destroy her son’s relationship out of spite for his detested fiancée, but Luketic always seems to cross the line into lunacy.

He does the same with “21.” Based on the book “Bringing Down the House,” “21” is the story of a group of six MIT geniuses who, with the expertise of their professor, learn how to count cards in blackjack and win millions on the weekends in Las Vegas with just enough time to get back for class Monday morning.

First, we meet the innocent Ben Campbell (Jim Sturgess), a prospective Harvard Medical School student who has worked his entire life to reach the academic success that could possibly put him on the road to becoming a doctor. The problem is that Ben, despite his $8-an-hour job selling suits at a men’s retail store, cannot come up with the $300,000 tuition to the Ivy League without earning a very competitive scholarship that he probably won’t get.

When he is introduced to the world of counting cards, however, Ben, sees a “means to an end” of his financial situation. With the guidance of Professor Mickey Rosa (Kevin Spacey), he and his new friends, including the pretty Jill Taylor (Kate Bosworth), hone their blackjack skills, become “gambling” pros, and set off to Vegas with little to worry about except what they will order from room service in their high-roller suites.

Of course, where there’s money there’s power and when power begins to switch hands within the group, things become testy between Mickey and his minions. Along with the inner turmoil between team members, Cole Williams (Lawrence Fishburne), one of the casino’s security heads has become ever-so suspicious of Ben and his buddies because of the amount of money they are raking in during their weekly visits.

Devoid of any real exciting card playing moments or memorable scenes in Vegas (the girls on the team do stick their heads out of the limo’s moon roof at one point), “21” becomes predictable and cliché from the rise and fall of the main hero to the obvious plot twists and payoff.

Stick to pinochle with your granny on a Sunday afternoon. At least you might get some milk and cookies out of that deal.