Last night I watched the romantic comedy, The Ugly Truth starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. It started off as all Heigl movies do, a beautiful, OCD woman named Abby with a good job is looking for the perfect man. Heigl has definitely mastered the art of being that character. Go watch 27 Dresses if you need more proof. What bothered me about this film was that the male character, Mike that she fell in love with was not only unconventional, but makes a living by telling women that all men want is sex. He ends up with a segment on her news show and through some witty banter and flirting, helps her land a date with her attractive neighbor. Abby is desperate to prove that true gentlemen do exist and that her neighbor will value her for who she is. As with any good romantic comedy, Mike and Abby go on a shopping spree to find clothes that objectify her so the cute neighbor has something to look at. Abby ends up following all of Mike’s advice and becomes exactly what “men want”; sexual, smart, and not a control freak. I figured that at the end we’d get some story from Mike about the woman who broke his heart and that he and Abby would get together and he’d admit that he doesn’t believe what he says and men do have feelings etc. etc. This is kind of what played out, but without a “moral of the story.” What I mean by this is that at the end of the movie we are still led to believe that men are pigs. When Abby reveals her true self to her neighbor, it doesn’t work out because he said the thing he liked most about her was that she didn’t have to be in control. I was really turned off by that because it just perpetuated the idea that women are submissive and shouldn’t seek to be in control. Also, when Abby and Mike did end up together, she asked him why he loved her to which he said he had no idea. I’m sorry, you don’t know? So basically, Heigl is never praised for her real attributes, she is just lusted after because…well, we don’t really know. Having her as the female protagonist, a strong woman who is independent and a control freak should have been great. But the lack of validation for those attributes and the constant focus on her looks and sex appeal drive the movie down. For our grand finale, Abby and Mike are in bed together with Abby being all seductive, just in case we all forgot that sex is all that matters. Overall, I felt like there were no real morals. All we are left with is two people sleeping together and no real reason to believe that women are anything more than physical beings and what exactly men like about them is unclear.
I would give this movie a 6, it was entertaining and witty at the appropriate moments, but it was such a cliché of what men want. This is both offensive to men and women. There is an epidemic in the country of forcing people of both sexes to fit in a box. For women it is pretty, smart but not too smart, more submissive, and sexual. For men, it’s masculine, able to get women, and no feelings. This movie would have been much better if there was some realization about how men and women don’t have to remain in these boxes. If there had been more sensitivity to Mike’s character or if Abby was able to be validated for her worth, there would have been a better take away for audience members. It didn’t need to include a feminist bumper sticker or blatant question of gender rolls but just making the characters a little less stereotypical would have been great. Was it funny? Yeah. Was it outrageous and meant to be over dramatic? Sure. But the point at the end still should have been there. There should have been more of a lesson to learn. People who don’t fit in those boxes deserve an ending where they can relate. I know that can’t happen in every plot line but in this one I was looking for a little bit more.