The 400-Word-Review: The Other Woman
By Sean Collier
April 28, 2014
Among the many disconnects between any semblance of logic and the script for The Other Woman, a rotten grapefruit of a romcom written by Melissa Stack and directed by Nick Cassavetes, is an essential one at the film’s core. The philandering antagonist, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is cherished — almost worshipped — by the trio of women he mistreats; all three obsess over him once his misdeeds are revealed. They’re out for revenge, a thorough undoing of this scoundrel. How do they extract this vengeance?
Uh, they give him a laxative that makes him poop everywhere. And sneak some estrogen into his shake, so his nipples get big and sensitive. And slip him something that makes a negligible quantity of his hair fall out.
That’ll teach him!
The comeuppance escalates, as an afterthought, in the film’s final reel. But the reason for that lack of parity between emotion and action is what’s so troubling about The Other Woman: even with two female leads and two central, secondary female characters, the feelings of the women in this film are trivialized as petty, juvenile histrionics. Divorce? Betrayal? Broken hearts? Silly ladies!
It’s a shame, because there’s a great performance at the center of this film. As Mark’s downtrodden wife Kate, Leslie Mann anchors the film with a genuinely funny performance (the advertising would have you believe that Cameron Diaz’s Carly, the chief mistress, is the lead, but that’s just because — inexplicably — she’s seen as marketable). Kate is badly underwritten, but Mann is hilarious, wringing every possible laugh out of the dialogue she’s given and generating more with a gift for polished, careful physical comedy. Even with tissue-thin motivation, she will force you to cheer for her.
The same cannot be said for Carly, whose motivations change as often as the hair and makeup styles of the actress failing to breathe life into her. Diaz is always a wet blanket, utterly uninterested in connecting with the performers around her; the only question when she appears in a cast list is how far down she can drag the project. And with The Other Woman, that’s pretty damn far.
Stunningly, she’s actually eclipsed in wretchedness by hip-hop star Nicki Minaj, who can’t manage one un-flubbed line reading. Supermodel Kate Upton plays the third part of the scorned triumvirate; she doesn’t embarrass herself, which has to be considered a significant achievement. Especially in this movie.
Aggregate Rating from CriticsChoice.com: 67/100
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark