I am writing this column from my Ikea bed with a pounding headache. I am sick with bronchitis and, so far, resisting antibiotics in favour of tea and relaxation. It seems that everyone in Los Angeles is sick right now. Perhaps it was the rainstorms from last week. We are allergic to rain here.

With the little energy I had yesterday, I drove to the nearest grocery store and rented a film from a RedBox. RedBox sounds dirty, but it's not. It's a DVD vending machine that charges $1 for a movie. I scrolled through the various movie titles and settled upon an easy film which wouldn't require any concentration. I rented, yes, you guessed it -- a chick flick -- 'The Ugly Truth'.

At this point, I don't even really have to watch another chick flick to know exactly how it is going to unfold. Girl is single. Girl is lonely. Girl meets sweet guy. Girl meets another guy who she thinks is a jerk. Girl tries to connect with sweet guy. Girl wins over sweet guy. Jerk guy seems more appealing. Girl recognizes she is hopelessly in love with jerk guy. Jerk guy becomes a little nicer, but not quite as nice as sweet guy, which is what girl really wants anyway. The relationship starts. The movie ends. Wow, that story took two minutes to write. I wonder if I can sell it to Hollywood.

I am writing this column from my Ikea bed with a pounding headache. I am sick with bronchitis and, so far, resisting antibiotics in favour of tea and relaxation. It seems that everyone in Los Angeles is sick right now. Perhaps it was the rainstorms from last week. We are allergic to rain here.

With the little energy I had yesterday, I drove to the nearest grocery store and rented a film from a RedBox. RedBox sounds dirty, but it's not. It's a DVD vending machine that charges $1 for a movie. I scrolled through the various movie titles and settled upon an easy film which wouldn't require any concentration. I rented, yes, you guessed it -- a chick flick -- 'The Ugly Truth'.

At this point, I don't even really have to watch another chick flick to know exactly how it is going to unfold. Girl is single. Girl is lonely. Girl meets sweet guy. Girl meets another guy who she thinks is a jerk. Girl tries to connect with sweet guy. Girl wins over sweet guy. Jerk guy seems more appealing. Girl recognizes she is hopelessly in love with jerk guy. Jerk guy becomes a little nicer, but not quite as nice as sweet guy, which is what girl really wants anyway. The relationship starts. The movie ends. Wow, that story took two minutes to write. I wonder if I can sell it to Hollywood.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Anyway, home I drove with a copy of 'The Ugly Truth', which stars Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. Katherine Heigl seems designed to play this type of role and she has played it before ('Knocked Up', anyone?). In 'The Ugly Truth', Heigl is Abby Richter, a serious and hard-driving news producer whose show ratings have recently plummeted. Usually, there is no problem that Abby can't solve. Her favourite expressions include, "There are no problems, only solutions" and "It's a matter of looking chaos right in the face and telling it to f--k off."

Despite Abby's professional competence, however, she can't seem to solve the quandary of her empty romantic life. Single and lonely, Abby is desperate to find a boyfriend. But, her neurotic, control-freak ways, though perfect for her career, completely undermine her romantic aptitude. For instance, when she meets a guy on the internet, Abby brings to their dinner date a printout of a background check she had run on him. And she has a preconceived list in her head of what makes the ideal mate -- smart, handsome, loves romantic walks, blah, blah, blah, cough, cough, boring, boring, etc.

When Abby is informed that her news show will be changing direction and that there will be a new host, Mike Chadway, she is devastated. Mike had been hosting a local tv show, 'The Ugly Truth', whereby he gives advice like, "Get on the Stairmaster. Get skinny!" to women who are seeking to secure a man. Mike's position is that men don't really care about women and that men are only interested in two things -- 1. what a woman looks like and 2. sex. The romantic and dreamy Abby is aghast at and insulted by Mike's views, but she is forced to become his producer if she wants to keep both her show and her job. Let the tension begin. Of course, the show's ratings begin to climb and the two make a successful television team.



Behind the scenes (pardon the pun), the seemingly unsentimental Mike spots Abby's romantic desperation and decides to give her some coaching on how to attract a man. Reluctantly, Abby begins to allow Mike to advise her. After all, Abby just met her gorgeous, doctor neighbour Colin and she is desperate to connect with him. Before she goes out with Colin for the first time, Mike gives her some basic rules on men: 1. Never criticize a man. 2. Always laugh at his jokes. 3. Never talk about your problems with a man. 4. Men want a woman to be both saint and sinner, librarian and stripper. 5. Men are visual. They like long hair. Abby begins to follow Mike's rules and she sees good results. Colin grows increasingly enamoured with this Mike-ified version of Abby and Abby begins to think she is happy. Of course, if you have to lie about who you are in order to keep a partner around, you can't truly be fulfilled. But Abby keeps convincing herself.

Meanwhile, maybe Mike's views on men's inability to love are a cover-up. Maybe he has been hurt. Countless times. Maybe he just needs to feel the seeds of love again to change his views. Could the neurotic and highly-strung Abby have the right password to gain access into Mike's locked-up heart? Well... they work well together. They spend lots of time together. They have chemistry. They are comfortable around one another. After a difficult beginning, they begin to get along well with each other socially. And, they are both incredibly attractive. But, Abby is involved with Colin now and she's worked so hard to maintain his affections. Can she give all of that up for the wise-cracking Mike who may be charming, but doesn't enjoy romantic walks on the beach?

So, what do you think happens? Enter the chick flick formula from the first paragraph. Yawn.

I wouldn't run out to rent this film. In fact, I wouldn't even walk out to rent it, unless you are sick and dizzy and can't bear the thought of watching a daytime talk show. The truth about this film... well... it's in the title. I'm glad I only paid a buck for the film. And, I'm sort of hoping that when I return it today that the machine will screw up and give me my dollar back.