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The Ugly Truth
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this R-rated comedy is much crasser than star Katherine Heigl's last romcom, 27 Dresses. It's heavy on sexual references and scenarios (Jell-O wrestling, vibrating underwear, etc.) and light on sweetness. The characters are stereotypes until the end, and most of the messages about dating and relationships are shallow and, frankly, sexist (i.e. women should play games and hide all traces of their true personality if they want to "land" a man). There's also lots of strong language, from swear words like "f--k" and "s--t" to body-part terms like "balls," "c--k," "p---y," and "tits."
What's the story?
Sacramento TV producer Abby Richter (Katherine Heigl) is a self-admitted control freak with exacting expectations for the man of her dreams ... which is part of the reason she's had trouble finding him. A handsome new neighbor looks like he could be the one, but her show's resident in-house boor, Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler), thinks Abby needs to refine her act a bit first and become the woman of all men's dreams: compliant, non-threatening, and dressed for sex. Abby can't stand Mike’s caveman ways, but she's eager enough to win her dream guy that she's willing to give his tips a try -- especially since Mike appears to be the ratings lure her bosses have been craving. But, as it turns out, both Abby and Mike find their presumptions turned on their heads.
Is it any good?
Heigl and Butler have enough chemistry to make a semi-scorching couple, but the movie's pluses pretty much end there. Truth is, THE UGLY TRUTH is as predictable as a romantic comedy can get. Yes, the two stars can't stand each other when they first meet. And, yes, they're polar opposites. And of course you have to suspect that they'll still wind up in each other's arms by the film's end. For good measure, there's a dance number thrown in so that they can finally touch each other long enough to realize that they like each other.
And there are other problems beyond the story. Tone, for instance. Granted, one of the protagonists is meant to be piggish, but does the rest of the film have to lard it on, too? In order to reach Judd Apatow-ian brilliance, you have to do more than just pile on the crass (Knocked Up this ain't). Had The Ugly Truth committed to being a simple-but-entertaining escape, it would have fared at least as well, if not better, than Heigl's more teen-friendly 27 Dresses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie portrays dating and romance. Ask your teens whether this is what they think adult relationships are reallylike. Parents, take this opportunity to talk to teens about the danger of changing or hiding your real personality in order to attract someone.
Do the characters in the movie seem realistic, or are they exaggerated "types"? Why do so many romantic comedies have polar opposites falling in love? What's the attraction of that type of storyline? Is it believable?
Do movies make it seem like there's more difficulty communicatingbetween the genders than there really is? Are men and women really allthat different?