Part Bridget Jones, part bunny boiler, morning TV producer Abby Richter (Heigl) is rubbish at dating. As in really rubbish. “I thought this might happen,” she says to one poor victim, sorry, potential suitor when the conversation dries up. “So I took the liberty of printing out some talking points.”
Enter mouthy Mike Chadway (Butler), a walking sexual harrassment case who makes his living shouting on telly about the same sorts of advice imparted in He’s Just Not That Into You. Abby is not a fan, and she’s furious when her boss hires Mike to liven up her show’s drooping ratings.
Once they’re working together, the sparks and insults fly, until they strike up a bizarre deal in which Abby will trust Mike’s advice while trying to woo her hunky heighbour. And by advice, we don’t just mean telling her not to bring a printed list of talking points. In a feat of organisation that puts Monica from Friends to shame, Mike dons an earpiece and provides step-by-step instructions, after first doing a Gok Wan on her wardrobe. “What’s wrong with comfort and efficiency?” “Nothing. Except no-one wants to fuck it.”
The Ugly Truth could have been called He’s Just Not That Into You, No Really He Isn’t, So Stop Sounding So Desperate, And Yes Men Do Think About Your Orifices – All Of Them. Much to Abby’s chagrin, Mike’s advice is pretty spot on. Offensive to men? Maybe. Good advice for those dating them? Totally.
As a dating advice handbook, The Ugly Truth probably contains more wisdom than He’s Just Not That Into You, which only has that one message to impart. But while some of the dialogue is funny, as is some of the slapstick (other moments are just excessively cringey), these elements come together to make a film that’s pretty flimsy. To be fair, it doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. Where He’s Just Not That Into tried to act clever with its snarky intertitles and asides to camera, The Ugly Truth is a daft rom-com that doesn’t pretend to be anything. It’s entertaining, if forgettable. That is, except for the scene in which Katherine Heigl has a screaming orgasm in a restaurant, Meg Ryan-style – you won’t forget that in a hurry.