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Heart Bleats

Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler make a dull pair in “The Ugly Truth.”



Since “The Ugly Truth” is a romantic comedy — about a television-news producer (Katherine Heigl) squaring off against a smart-mouthed TV personality (Gerard Butler) — the title might lead you to believe you're in for the last word on dating, the real deal on what makes men and women so different, or at least something original about relationships. Ah, silly reader. Not so, not so.

The revelations in “The Ugly Truth” are more snooze-inducing than shocking. Men are only interested in sex, we learn, and modern women talk too much. Better they open their mouths for a seductive bite of hot dog instead.

In the movie, “The Ugly Truth” refers to a local-access program on relationships produced and starring Mike Chadway (Butler), the shock host of a guy-talk segment who gets hired by the local TV news affiliate produced by Abby Richter (Heigl). He's great for the ratings, but Abby hates him and thinks he's a crass imbecile. Mike bemusedly regards Abby as a misdirected, controlling shrew. The result is not quite odd couple, not quite he-said, she-said relationship, but something resembling those things closely enough to kick your bedraggled soul from one scene to the next.

“Truth” reunites the “Legally Blonde” screenwriting team of Karen McCullah Lutz — a James Madison University alumna — and Kirsten Smith (along with Nicole Eastman) with “Blonde” director Robert Luketic. While lightning may have struck again in terms of box-office success, returns have diminished in terms of comedic bite. Butler and Heigl together don't add up to the charm and personality of a Reese Witherspoon, and there's nothing to hide the fact that “Truth” lacks the strong central gimmick, and humor, provided by the fish-out-of-water framework in “Blonde.”

In pursuit of her new hunky neighbor (Eric Winter), Abby puts aside the squabbling and turns to Mike for advice on manipulating her new man's brain. The movie quickly diverts into a modern update of “Cyrano de Bergerac.” Stuff ballpark food in your mouth like a porn star is the most memorable advice. Thanks for the tip, Mike. Here's another. Avoid this movie. (R) 95 min. HIIII S


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