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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: An ‘Ugly’ Selection

Premiere The Ugly Truth LA

The new pieces of cinematic crap this weekend aren’t worth a penny, much less ten bucks. In fact, the studios oughtta pay people to see the travesties that they’re unleashing today. Heading the bunch is The Ugly Truth (the title is so apropo). It’s a misogynistic “men vs. women” comedy directed by Robert Luketic (Legally Blonde) and starring the perennially annoying Katherine Heigl and 300 alum Gerard Butler.

Why does Butler insist on appearing in such fluffy rom-coms as this and P.S. I Love You. He’s an action star who’s trying to be like Hugh Grant. Not working.

The reviews have been unanimously bad. Richard Corliss of Time Magazine poses the question:

Was Hollywood wrong in putting its money on Katherine Heigl to be the next Julia Roberts?…She spends virtually the entire movie getting mocked up and knocked out… I’m not saying that The Ugly Truth is a career ender for Heigl. Indeed, as the first romantic comedy in wide release since Sandra Bullock’s The Proposal five weeks ago, the movie will attract its share of dating couples and single women. But if you’re looking for a rom-com with a higher IQ and an almost obsessive aim to charm its audience, you’d do better with (500) Days of Summer, which should soon get to a theater near you.

Yes. Corliss is right. Skip it if you have any dignity left. The Ugly Truth is one of those projects that could never have been good. It’s bad on a conceptual level, as it was written by three women (Nicole Eastman, Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith) who desperately want to be Judd Apatow, a writer/director who does not understand women.

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The other big stinker this weekend is the kiddie flick G-Force, a guinea pig-themed comedy starring Will Arnett and Zach Galifianakis in his first post-Hangover role. The critical consensus is that it falls flat. Ty Burr of The Boston Globe writes:

G-Force represents an inconceivably tragic waste of a brilliant idea. Frankly, if you can’t squeeze a decent movie out of talking 3-D superagent guinea pigs – complete with itty-bitty night-vision goggles and jet-propelled grappling hooks – you may as well throw in the towel and consider a career in insurance. G-Force looks great, moves fast, and will amuse kids under 8 or so, although it’d help if they already had a sugar buzz on. For anyone else, the goofy high concept quickly gives way to standard family flick fart gags, boilerplate writing, and soggy moralizing.

By the looks of the trailer below, I can’t say that I’m too surprised at its cool reception. Let us not forget that Disney, for all of its overrated Pixar magic, is in the money-making business. Kids don’t read reviews. And they love fart jokes.

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The other new movies are:

Orphan, your typical creepy kid, freaky imagery-filled horror flick.

The Answer Man, your typical “reclusive writer-meets-spunky girl” indie dramedy starring Jeff Daniels and Lauren Graham.

The Kevin Spacey-starring Shrink, your typical “cold man goes through a midlife crisis which forces him to find his inner warmth and connect with those around him” kind of indie flick.

And, finally, the warmly received political satire In the Loop. It seems as if it is one of the first movies to tackle the Iraq War successfully, mixing Spinal Tap-style humor with tinges of Stanley Kubrick (especially the trailer–posted below–which is an obvious homage to A Clockwork Orange).

In his Rolling Stone review, Peter Travers writes:

In the Loop deserves to be a sleeper hit. The whole cast is stellar. And it proves that smart and funny can exist in the same movie, even in summer.

I guess I was wrong. There is a movie worth seeing this weekend, if you can track it down that is.

All trailers posted below.

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