film review – The Other Woman

The Other Woman‘s taglines essentially tell you what type of story this supposed comedy sets out to tell you. The first tagline is: “He’ll never know what hit him.” The other one: “The oddest friends are about to get even.” And indeed, The Other Woman is about a revenge plot concocted by three women who have all been misled by the same unbelievably handsome but smarmy hotshot businessman Mark, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. However, a female empowerment film this is not: successful businesswoman Carly, mousy housewife Kate and dumb bombshell Amber, portrayed by Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton respectively, are nothing more than bland caricatures whose every decision revolves around this one man. But not only is The Other Woman the exact opposite of what it thinks it is, it’s also annoying, incredibly predictable and, most problematic, just not funny.

Once you get past the unlikely premise of a cheated-on spouse who befriends her husband’s two mistresses who similarly didn’t know about their boyfriend’s marital status, there’s still surprisingly little to enjoy about the film. That has nothing to do with Cameron Diaz, though: she does her best to sell the material and she actually plays it straight when the script allows it, which occasionally works quite well for the movie. Since she’s the brains of the operation and the audience’s entry point into the narrative, it helps to have a relatively calm center, and Diaz provides exactly that. Leslie Mann, on the other hand, completely overdoes it: the moronic traits of her character are even made more annoying because of the hysterical way in which Mann portrays Kate. There’s a lot of arm-waving, shouting, loud crying and crazy laughing, which really makes it hard to sit through her scenes. Model Kate Upton fares better, even though she gets very little lines and is usually just in a shot to look clueless or gorgeous, which is another weird decision. Sure, at first she’s there to make the other two woman jealous, but did we really need a gratuitous slowmo take of Upton running down the beach to establish that? No: for a film that takes a clear stance on cheating and viewing women as little more than objects, it’s preposterous to take on a viewpoint that’s so much like bad guy Mark’s. Coster-Waldau plays this slimy character adequately, by the way: he’s a simply a douche and easy to hate.

But the acting really isn’t The Other Woman‘s problem, even though it can get very grating at times. By far the writing and directing are the movie’s biggest flaws. In both cases there’s simply no originality to the film, which makes it plodding and, even with a running time of 109 minutes, overlong. The Other Woman doesn’t concern itself with gender roles or sharp satire, instead the film is filled with poop jokes, ill-conceived and unfunny slapstick moments and, of course, a lot of scenes in which these cooky women do cooky things with clichéd songs like Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ playing in the background. It’s all so lazy and uninspired that it hurts, and even a talented actress like Diaz can’t make this unfunny mess of a film funny. It seems like The Other Woman‘s creators have mistaken loud and erratic for comedic, instead of coming up with good jokes and situations that are so cleverly conceived they lead to laughs. It’s a shame really, because Diaz and Mann have proven they can deliver the fun when the material and directing is good. But here they’re both let down, as is The Other Woman‘s audience.

The Other Woman is a dull and uninspired affair that wastes its talented leading ladies. 3/10


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