At this late date in movie history, it seems almost unnecessary to provide detailed narratives, since the tropes are so familiar. The Ugly Truth, which opens areawide on Friday, is a case in point. This romantic comedy stars Katherine Heigl as a lovelorn TV producer and Gerard Butler as the crass misogynist her station hires to boost ratings. The audience can recite the formula (hate at first sight turns to love), so the movie can largely ignore plot development and just revel in the charisma of its leads. Fortunately, it’s blessed with genuinely appealing players (unlike, say, The Proposal). Heigl is an Amazonian beauty with comedic flair, and Butler, a Scotsman known chiefly for historical drama, displays a twinkling Clooney/Crowe charm. He plays Mike, host of a ribald cable-access show debunking feminine notions of romance, who's recruited over the objections of Abby (Heigl) to salvage her sagging morning-news program. He also helps salvage her sagging love life in a sort of reverse Pygmalion: transforming her from strong woman into cleavage-baring Barbie doll. Director Robert Luketic’s track record is spotty (Legally Blonde, Monster-in-Law), but this one benefits from an amusing, if uneven, screenplay by Nicole Eastman and Karen McCullah Lutz that’s innocuously raunchy, a combination you might not have thought possible. ***
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