The movie starts off with Abby (Katherine Heigl) going to work at a television station in which she is the producer of a morning talk/news show. When she gets there, many people approach her with their many problems with the show. One anchor, Larry (John Michael Higgins), approaches her, complaining that he does not want to work with the other anchor, Georgia (Cheryl Hines), claiming that he deals with her enough at home. She tells him that other famous anchors could never work with their spouses because they could never handle it, but he can do it. Georgia is having allergy problems with a food dish, but Abby handles the situation, as well as many others. Somehow another stressful show goes by with little on camera issues. Off camera her manager Stuart (Nick Searcy) tells her that even public access shows on at night get better reviews than her show and they have to do something about it. She thinks on this as her assistant Joy (Bree Turner) walks up, telling her about their date they have that night, going on into specifics about the guy. In actuality, she plans the blind dates and gets as much information on the men as she can, giving them to the overly control freak Abby.
Abby goes to the restaurant, where she asks the hostess where the man is, giving her EXTREMELY specific descriptions. As they sit down, the man asks for bottled water, making Abby give him a lecture on how bottled water and tap are the same thing. She then brings out his profile, as well as more information on him she dug up from a background check. He is very creeped out by this (who wouldn’t be?) and in the next scene she goes home to her cat d’Artagnan. She gets ready for bed when d’Artagnan steps on the remote, changing it to a show on the public access channel called The Ugly Truth, hosted by Mike Chadway (Gerard Butler). His show talks about the ugly truth about men and women, talking about how in order for women to even get in a relationship, they need one thing… a stairmaster, because no one falls for personality at first sight. Mike insults the first woman caller, giving the next call to Abby. She confronts him, talking about how he does not believe in love. Mike throws comments back at her, saying how she must be ugly. She then talks about how there are perfect men in the world, giving her description of the man. Mike says that if she can bring him into the studio, he’ll give her one hundred dollars. She shyly claims that she hasn’t met him yet, which then makes him laugh at her and hang up.
Abby goes into work the next morning fuming about the conversation the night before. She walks into a board meeting where Stuart has some big news for everyone. They hired Mike to give short daily talks to try and boost ratings. Abby is furious, and when Mike finds out she is his boss, he claims “I like a woman on top.” When walking to the booth, she tells Joy she wants Mike to crash and burn. On his first morning on the show, he goes off script and confronts the two anchors about their relationship, making them talk about their love life on camera. Lo and behold he ends up reconnecting them physically and emotionally. The studio ends up getting hundreds and hundreds of emails and phone calls, nearly all of them positive. It’s official: Mike Chadway is there to stay, and ratings have never been better.
Mike gets home to hear many messages for him from former hook ups when a boy walks in the room. Mike talks with his nephew about his girl troubles and tells him to not listen to anything he says on his show. Mike’s sister brings out a cake to celebrate his accomplishments.
Abby gets home that night only to find out that her cat ate her goldfish. She chases it until it runs out a window and climbs up a tree. She climbs up the tree to get him, only to spy on the new neighbor walking out of the shower. As she’s watching him a branch breaks, leaving her hanging upside down. The neighbor hears her screams and runs outside (wearing only a towel) to help her. When he reaches her, his towel falls down revealing his naked butt (and well, more stuff to her eyes only). He helps her into his house and wraps up her sprained ankle because he is a doctor. His name is Colin (Eric Winter) and he gives her his home number as well as his card and wishes her well with her ankle. She takes the card and walks out of his apartment. He is still holding her cat, and when he opens the door, he finds her doing her happy dance (which we see many times throughout the movie). She shrugs it off, takes her cat, and goes back to her apartment.
Joy and Abby talk about the doctor the next day and are both very excited. They go on to yet another day of The Ugly Truth, in which Mike compares romantic dates. After walking past a candlelit dinner scenario complete with personal violin player, he walks out of the studio to two girls wrestling in cherry jello, asking viewers to guess which one is more appealing to men. He gets pulled into the pool, where Abby grudgingly tells him to lick jello off of one girl’s finger. It’s all for ratings. After it ends, he follows her into her office where she tells him that she met a doctor. He wonders if they’re going out, and she says not quite yet. He starts laughing, angering her to the point that she gets out the card and calls him at work. Colin is seemingly creeped out and confused when Abby begins telling him that they should go out that upcoming weekend. Before he can blow her off, Mike hangs up the phone on Abby and Colin. He says that he’ll call her back within a few seconds if he’s interested. The phone rings and he tells her to pick it up and say “Hi Doug.” She asks why but does it anyway, confusing Colin even more. Mike tells her to say that Doug is just some other guy she’s seeing, but it’s not serious. Colin seems upset at hearing that, and Mike tells Abby to put him on hold. He says that if Colin holds for at least 30 seconds, he is interested in her. While on hold, Mike tells her that he can make the relationship work if she does everything he says. He is so confident that if it doesn’t work, he will quit the station. They make a deal, leaving the room and leaving Colin on hold. Later at the station Mike’s nephew comes to tell him that a girl asked him to a dance. Mike is really happy for his nephew, and Abby sees their relationship for the first time.
Mike takes Abby shopping for bras that complement her and dresses that show enough but not too much. He also buys her hair extensions because “men want something they can grab onto.” He asks her if she does anything to please herself, to which she says no. He then tells her to laugh at everything the guy says, and to fake it when need be. They get to her house, where Abby dresses into the clothes. He comes downstairs and he wants to teach her flirting. She proves that she already knows how to flirt, even fooling Mike. All of a sudden they hear a knock at the door. It’s Colin, and Mike tells her to keep it short. He hides behind the couch while she answers the door. Colin comments on her clothes, and she says she was just doing the dishes. He wonders about the phone call earlier, and she hurries to leave the door. He sees Mike behind the couch and asks Abby out. Abby says yes, closes the door, and does happy dances with Mike.
The scene cuts to Abby and Colin at the ballpark. Abby has an earpiece in, and Mike is watching them from another part of the park. They sit down as Abby waits for a signal. A woman fan approaches Mike and hugs him, causing her boyfriend to shove him. He replies “What the fuck?” Abby then yells at Colin “What the fuck???” Colin has no clue what he just did, and Mike tries to think up what to do. He tells Abby to say that Colin was looking at another girl, and when Colin asks who, Abby points to the vendor lady. He is really confused and says he just wants to order them hot dogs. She nervously laughs it off and Mike tells her to put the hot dog in her mouth slowly because guys like seeing like that. She scoffs and spills her drink on Colin’s crotch. She apologizes profusely and begins to wipe off the drink vigorously. He tries to tell her to stop, but has a hard time telling her to. A kiss camera focuses on the two of them, only in the shot it looks like Abby is doing something else to Colin instead of just wiping off soda. It causes even the ball players to stop and look. After the date, Abby apologizes again for embarrassing Colin. Mike tells her to walk away and as she does, Colin pulls her back and kisses her. They say goodnight and as Colin goes in his apartment, Abby goes over to hug Mike and thank him for helping.
Abby starts getting presents at work from Colin, and they go out more, including dates in which he feeds her caviar (she can’t stand being fed but lets him do it anyway). Abby comes home to find a present on her doorstep. It turns out it’s a pair of vibrating underwear from Mike to “help her.” Abby starts getting ready for another date with Colin, and after she’s all dressed and ready, she gets a text from Colin, saying that he’s running late. She sees the present and decides to put them on. As soon as she puts them on, she hears a knock on the door. She puts her remote in her purse and goes over. It’s Mike and Stuart, saying that they’re picking her up for the meeting with the big bosses at a restaurant. She grabs her purse and they pick Colin up on the way to the meeting. As they get to the restaurant, Mike meets the “Jello Twins” and everyone gets introduced to the bosses. As they get to the table, the remote falls out of her purse. A little boy finds it and walks over to his table behind Abby. As soon as Abby begins introducing her ideas, the boy starts playing with the remote, turning the underwear on. Abby can feel it, but has no clue where her remote is, trying to find it with Mike under the table. She has to explain her ideas more, and as she does Mike sees the boy and laughs quietly. The boy begins turning up the power, and Abby puts on quite a show. After it’s all over, Mike goes over to the boy and takes it away from him. Colin tells the bosses that she’s very enthusiastic about the job as Abby yells at Mike for not getting it back sooner.
Mike comes into work very excited because his agent tells him they scored a gig on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Abby tells him about how she and Colin are going to Lake Tahoe for a weekend vacation where they will finally consummate their relationship. Later, Stuart tells Abby she has to go with Mike to California because there CBS San Francisco will offer him a job with twice the pay. She ends up going with them and on the ride there they try to practice interview questions. Mike is much more interested in Abby’s relationship, but she tries to not talk about it. On the show, Mike mentions that heartbreak lasts a long time but hook ups don’t hurt. Craig asks who hurt him, and Mike pauses but blows it off with a joke. Abby and Mike celebrate with drinks at a bar, and Abby says that she knows about the CBS offer. Mike tells her he turned them down because he needs to be home for his nephew. She then asks him who hurt him, and he says that many different women have in the past. He then takes her on the dance floor, where they have a fun time. As they talk on the elevator, things get heated and they kiss. Mike leaves for his floor as Abby heads up to her room. She goes back and thinks about how she wants that experience to happen again. All of a sudden she hears a knock on the door.
Colin enters the room, saying he couldn’t stay away knowing what would have happened in Lake Tahoe. She is shocked and seemingly upset that it’s not Mike. She tries to smile it off. Outside, Mike is pacing in the hallway, thinking about what he is going to tell Abby. He goes over to the door where Colin answers and Abby follows. He tells her something about the flight in the morning and paces off. Abby follows him apologizing, saying that she really wished it was him at the door. He walks off and Abby goes back to Colin. He gives her champagne where she chugs it down. She asks him why he likes her, and he responds that she’s so different from the other girls and she’s spontaneous and not a control freak. She tells him that she’s been lying to him the whole time and she has not been herself one bit, proving what a control freak she really is. He awkwardly covers his chest up, and she continues talking.
Stuart yells at Abby as she gets back to work the following Monday. He says that Mike quit to work with one of their competing stations. She promises him that he will find a new sensation by the end of the day. The search proves more difficult than she thought as she sees the people auditioning. Mike tours his new work, saying that he’s happy with his new producer because he doesn’t want to sleep with him. His male producer replies “That’s good!”
It’s a hot air balloon festival, and Abby and Mike are separately covering the festival. Mike’s replacement goes on the air to talk about how he is fit to fill in and host The Ugly Truth because he has had sex with 150 women, 99 of them consciously. He goes on to say that no does not always mean no, and Abby shoves him aside, taking over the microphone. Mike watches from his news van. Abby talks about how men are sissies and are scared of relationships, and Mike storms over to Abby’s balloon, taking over the microphone trying to prove her wrong. They start to argue when they take them off the air. The balloon begins to go up, and Joy tells the camera people to turn on the stationary camera on the balloon. Mike and Abby do not know they are being filmed live, and they start to argue about the weekend. Mike tells her that he loves her, and Abby continues to argue. He then says that she is so control freaky that he just said he loved her and she couldn’t even hear it. He has to tell her again before it finally sinks in. Everyone is watching, including Mike’s nephew and sister. They kiss as the balloon operator shys away in the corner. The movie closes with Mike and Abby having sex. He asks her if she was faking it. She replies “You’ll never know.”
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