Lisa Schwarzbaum
July 28, 2009 AT 09:29 PM EDT

Yes, Owen reviewed the movie and shared his thoughts about chick flicks in this space just the other day. But indulge me: How many women did it take to coarsen The Ugly Truth, a soul-crushing mainstream romantic comedy in which Katherine Heigl plays an adult who is competent enough to work as a television producer but utterly incompetent at being a single woman who enjoys the success she’s earned?

Well, for starters, the slate of producers includes Heigl and her mother, Nancy Heigl: Mother and daughter were apparently fine with the long, embarrassing scene in which the star, as an uptight, controlling lonely lady named Abby, wears novelty panties equipped with a vibrator operated by remote control. Seated at an important work-related dinner with her bosses when the joystick falls into the hands of an oinky boy at the next table (he doesn’t know what the buttons do, just that they need to be pushed), Abby’s involuntary, jerking sexual spasms become the source of great, smutty hilarity.

Both Heigls obviously signed off on the notion that although Abby keeps a checklist of what she thinks she wants in a classy man, the guy who really knows how to untwist her knickers is a graduate of the guys-just-want-to-get-laid school of cartoon manliness; he teaches her to be a better woman! And the concept obviously passed muster among the three women credited as screenwriters, as well as the women in charge of film editing, production design, casting, costumes, make-up, and set decoration.

The depressing reality is, The Ugly Truth wouldn’t have gotten made without the say-so of  the influential woman who heads the major studio that released it.

If this rare critical mass of  female talent and power can’t — or won’t — come up with a more intelligent, self-respecting, appealing mass-market romantic comedy that reflects life as reasonable men and women really know it, then I don’t know that even a wise Latina woman like Sonia Sotomayor can help despairing feminists like me.

I think I’ll go watch Humpday again–an indie comedy that’s actually sexy, raunchy,  funny, feminist, and wise. True, Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler are nowhere around on screen to draw a crowd. But neither is the feeling that I, as a moviegoer, am being treated like a sucker.

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