a review by Gary Chew
TTM surfers who read these reviews don't know how lucky they are they've got me to write this one on "The Ugly Truth." It's a new, racy, romantic sex comedy (rated "R" and directed by Robert Luketic) that's about a medium-market television station and the shenanigans that go on with its news department trying to boost the ratings of a lame midday TV news show. I think I sort of identify with that. (Now it's time for "Go for Dough on the Early Show!")
But there's more. All the randy silliness in "The Ugly Truth" is set in a bogus Channel 2 -- KSXP-TV, Sacramento, California. Now, you can tell just how fortunate you're getting to read this piece written by a guy who can identify so well with both the first and, now, this second paragraph of comments about a feature film that feels more like an extended, ribald Show Time sitcom a la "Weeds" or "Californication." (Praise be to Mary-Louise Parker and David Duchovny.)
Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a hot, hip lady TV producer in California's capital. (See great exteriors of downtown Sac at the river.) The boss is on her to get the ratings up on a news program. She sees a rude cable show titled, "The Ugly Truth." The host is named Mike. He's played by Gerard Butler.
Mike's a chauvinistic ladies' man who's very perceptive about young women and their reactions relating to those moments they experience in sexual and romantic situations. Did I say the disheveled Mike is also an insufferable cad? Putting the proverbial finer point on it, Mike does a sort of Dr. Phil thing (in reverse) on the air. He makes sure to always offend and titillate viewers, simultaneously. He also affected people at the screening that way---especially the females. But what's really hot, guys, is that "The Ugly Truth" was written by three gals: Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith.
Viewer reaction to Mike's "The Ugly Truth" segment on the news program is astounding. Hey, look at those ratings! Hey, looks at those spot sales during the program's time period! There's nothing more to say about that, except that the lovely Abby is not having any of it. It is the ugly truth that she's totally anti-Mike in every way but can do nothing because what she and her crew do is entertainment---not news. As Tulsa's Mazeppa would say, "Show Bidness!"
Since "The Ugly Truth" is neither a whodunit nor layered, non-sequential caper flick designed to confound we can all see where this movie is going. But the fun getting there is worth the price of the evening, if you don't spend much time at the concession stand and put your own favorite television personalities into the principal roles, whether they be local or on the network.
Here in Sacramento, Dave and Lois Hart, who used to co-anchor on CNN, have been holding forth on the local NBC-TV affiliate for as long as I've been here. The couple retired last fall. Dave and Lois are married and can boast a successful, in-tandem career. They're well-liked and have shown they can do the ratings thing quite well, thank you.
For Sacramentans, especially, there's a very humorous sub plot in "The Ugly Truth." The co-anchors of the news program on which Mike's "Ugly Truth" segment is featured are married. The woman is played by Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and her hubby co-anchor is played by John Michael Higgins. Mr. Higgins plays his character as if he may have been sneaking some peeks of Ted Knight as Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore" television hit.
Cheryl Hines and John Michael Higgins
Speaking of TV news anchors: I walked into the screening behind another well-known Channel 3 news anchor. Like me, a retired gentleman by the name of Stan Atkinson. Everybody in Sacramento knows who Stan Atkinson is. Stan is to Sacramento what Jack Morris is to Tulsa, except, I've heard Stan has a better golf swing.
I didn't see where Stan sat during the screening, but I'd wager he was, like me, laughing his tally light off with the raunchy antics going on during the whole damned running time of this (as they say) laugh-packed movie. Perhaps there's more honesty in this motion picture than any of us realize. Maybe that's why they call it "The Ugly Truth."
We'll be back right after this extended string of long-winded commercials.
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Gary Chew can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2009, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.