Another movie I won’t be seeing

July 24, 2009 § 4 Comments

Get it? Because men don't have brains, and women don't like sex! It's all becoming clear.

Get it? Because men don't have brains, and women don't like sex! It's all becoming clear.

It’s summer, and though I’m busy working my tail patience off as a camp counselor, I also have quite a bit of downtime. I’ve seen a bunch of movies lately: some silly ones with my family (The Proposal and Year One) as well as films that I actually wanted to see (Away We Go and, last night, 500 Days of Summer — both excellent, the latter mostly because of my enormous crush on Zooey Deschanel). But one movie that I’m certain I won’t spend $12.50 on is The Ugly Truth, starring part-time feminist Katherine Heigl as a “romantically challenged morning show producer” and Gerard Butler as a professional douche. I’ve seen some previews that warned me of its knee-slappin’ “humor,” and then this morning I read the excellently scathing New York Times review by Manohla Dargis, fabulously titled Girl Meets Ape, and Complications Ensue.

When it comes to the old straight-boy-meets-straight-girl configuration with big-studio production values…the romantic comedy is nearly as dead as Meg Ryan’s career. In the best of these films, the women aren’t romantic foils, much less equals: they’re either (nice) sluts or (nicer) wives, and essentially as mysterious and unknowable as the dark side of the moon.

Which leads to “The Ugly Truth,” a cynical, clumsy, aptly titled attempt to cross the female-oriented romantic comedy with the male-oriented gross-out comedy that is interesting on several levels, none having to do with cinema. Katherine Heigl plays Abby, a producer for a ratings-challenged Sacramento morning television show, the kind that specializes in empty smiles, cooking tips and weather updates. She’s single and therefore, in the moral economy of modern Hollywood, unhappy. Her life goes into a tailspin when her boss hires a professional ape, Mike (Gerard Butler), who delivers loutish maxims on camera about the sexes that basically all boil down to this: Men have penises, and women should accommodate them any which way they can, preferably in push-up bras and remote-controlled vibrating panties.

…Ms. Heigl doesn’t do perky all that persuasively, but she does keep her smile and relative dignity even in scenes in which Abby is forced to play the fool, which is often, as when she’s hanging upside down from a tree in her skivvies. She even survives the scene that finds Abby writhing spasmodically during a dinner with her corporate masters, because, well, she’s wearing those pulsating panties, the boy at the next table has the remote, and there’s nothing funnier (or, really, scarier) than the spectacle of female pleasure.

I am SO. TIRED. of media that portrays women’s minds as murky, our bodies as property, and our desires as hilarious. A woman’s sexuality is not so damn difficult to understand — if you talk to and listen to her, which society is apparently loath to do.

And another thing: no one seems to get that these movies are as offensive to men as they are to women. Commenters on IMDB rave that it’s a “comedy for both sexes,” one you can “bring your boyfriend” to. Men should not be like Butler’s skeevy character; and what’s more, they aren’t. But movies like this convince the public that guys are practically children, and we shouldn’t expect to hold them accountable for atrocious sexist behavior.

“The Ugly Truth” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian).
The language is consistently crude and includes the apparently now requisite antigay slurs.

Yeah. Because straight = manly, manly = asshole, and asshole = sexy.

§ 4 Responses to Another movie I won’t be seeing

  • Tracey says:

    Wow. I knew this looked bad, but after that description from the NYT, I’m totally grossed out.

    And I don’t know the entire scenario, but someone controlling someone else’s remote control underwear without their consent smacks of sexual assault.

  • Nell Gwynne says:

    The really scary thing about the vibrating underwear scenario ( i saw a clip of it) is that the person using the control is a YOUNG BOY at a nearby dinner table, who picks up the controller and starts playing with it on accident. Butler’s character sees what’s going on, and instead of taking away the controller, laughs to himself, because apparrently, watching someone who isn’t even eight years old contoll Abby’s remote-control underwear without her knowledge/conset is FRICKIN HILARIOUS.

    I mean, I had similar problems with “The Proposal” (high-powered, demanding executive=frigid bitch), but at least Bullock’s physical comedy scenes were more funny than gross and humiliating, Ryan Reynold’s character wasn’t a total and complete douche, and there was the awesomeness that is Betty White.

    Dating/love/romance can be very funny, but it seems like most of the rom-coms that get funded/produced are such epic and horrible pieces of shit.

  • Amanda says:

    Hmm interesting.. I just recently watched the movie “Shortbus” and one of the characters puts a remote-controlled vibrator in her underwear (for her husband to control). I perceived it as not being for her husband, but for herself – a way to “own” her sexuality by proposing such an act. It’s funny how a single act (vibrating underwear) can be flipped into something with a completely different meaning – as a “humorous” way to control a women sexually without her consent. Eck.

  • […] of 50 just arrived; I wedged a bunch in my wallet and can’t wait to stick them to sexist subway […]

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