Director: Nick Cassavetes
Writer: Melissa Stack
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Release date: April 17th, 2014
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Running time: 109 minutes
Best part: Kinney and Coster-Waldau.
Worst part: The awkward slapstick humour.
Ironically, The Other Woman, for a movie about its lead characters rejecting all quarrels and enjoying life, can only deliver a torturous experience. Right off the bat, this rambunctious and simplistic romantic comedy contradicts itself more so than its soul sucking, alpha male antagonist (and that’s saying something!). However, despite failing to reach my particular demographic, I was willing to go into it with an open mind.
So, after the past decade’s serving of forgettable and soapy rom-com junk, why would I be optimistic? Well, despite The Other Woman’s hypoactive/itch-that-needs-scratching marketing campaign, the world’s funniest and most insightful female performers need more screen time. Always highlighted as “the funny ones”, a handful of female comedic actors are chewed up and spat out for our viewing pleasure. We still aren’t sure if they’re being branded as cinematic treasures or extorted for our cynical amusement. To test this, two of these actors, Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, have been thrown together for this ethically questionable rom-com. Relax people, I’m not complaining about the performers themselves. I’m simply lambasting the movie they’re stranded in. To kick things off, Diaz’s character Carly Whitten is even presented as a no-nonsense, highly-skilled lawyer. Dating handsome businessman Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), her newfound lifestyle is more enviable than even her impressive office space. Inevitably, with one fell swoop, this confident woman hurriedly turns into a bumbling idiot as her life crumbles. In a ‘hilarious’ turn of events, Carly discovers Mark’s closeted skeletons. His most frightening secret comes in the form of his kooky housewife Kate (Mann).
Kate, tracking down and questioning Carly about her husband’s indiscretions, leans on her new confidant for assistance. From the trailer, it is easy to see where the narrative is headed. Aided by Kate’s brother Phil (Taylor Kinney), Carly and Kate investigate Mark’s shady wheelings and dealings. Admittedly, the movie is held up by an intriguing and thought-provoking premise. With infidelity an intrinsic factor in the dating/relationship game, the movie attempts to unpack certain myths and truths valuable to its taboo subject matter. However, falling into sitcom territory, the narrative never questions its character’s startlingly brutal actions or the topic itself. At least He’s Just Not That Into You delved head-first into note-worthy ideas. This rom-com drifts from laughably earnest, to shallow, to bafflingly silly between scenes. Following this tiresome formula, the first half comes off like a series of bland montages. Used to sell its retro-pop soundtrack, the first half’s stroll-like pace is unwarranted. On top of that, the movie throws its half-awake audience into discomforting scenarios. Forced to delve into Carly and Mark’s doomed romance, clichés and underdeveloped characters weigh down an aesthetically pleasing coupling. In the second half, however, the story picks up and takes things to the next level. Forming an alliance with Mark’s second mistress Amber (Kate Upton), Carly and Kate’s uneasy alliance switches from painfully flat to…slightly less so. This rom-com quickly strives for a Horrible Bosses vibe. Noticeably, contrivances and revelations stall the already groan-inducing plot. Every so often, characters do and say bizarre things just so…the film can happen.
“We got played by the same guy…do you want vodka or Tequila?” (Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz), The Other Woman).
A pop-star, a Sports Illustrated model, and Jamie Lannister walk into…never mind. Unfortunately, The Other Woman’s tonal inconsistency avoids charm, wit, and satire. With our three scornful women teaming up to destroy Mark, this sisterhood is supposed to ground an otherwise fantastical adventure. This half-hearted effort fails the Bechtel and laugh tests. On multiple occasions, Melissa Stack’s screenplay forces Diaz and Mann to commit unspeakable acts. Some scenes, setting up punch-line-free sequences, leave it up to the disastrous duo to tussle with and grope one another. In addition, beyond the useless slapstick gags, the gross out humour offends the movie’s already downtrodden audience. Offensive to men, women, and dogs, director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, Alpha Dog) abuses subtlety like Kate’s Great Dane obliterates Carly’s apartment. Beyond this fantastical realm of shiny locations and pretty people, its inhabitants lie, cheat, and steal to stay on top. Instead of simply divorcing Mark (like mature adults), the terrifying trio result to spiking his drinks with laxatives and oestrogen tablets. Sadly, this isn’t Diaz and Mann’s first ventures into atrocious rom-com territory. Diaz, delivering touching performances in There’s Something About Mary and In Her Shoes, continues her exhaustive run of critical and commercial bombs. Delving back into the What Happens In Vegas zone, her manic energy grates against the other performers. Worse still, Mann’s high-pitched voice and absurd mannerisms make for an apathetic and irritating presence. In addition, despite their good looks, Upton and Nicki Minaj look like they’re reading off of cue-cards.
I have no problem with rom-coms – every target demographic deserves specific genres to attach themselves to. However, The Other Woman is a forgettable, despicable, and cynical rom-com. With a rotten romance encased in frustrating slapstick gags and a cliche-ridden plot, this farce cements Diaz and Mann as critically and commercially derided comedic actors. It’s a shame, really. Thankfully, Diaz doesn’t have sex with a car in this one.