Successful attorney Carly (Cameron Diaz) has just started dating the perfect man, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He’s smart, attractive, and successful. Oh, and he’s married. After an awkward run-in with Mark’s wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), who’s falling apart at the thought of her husband’s infidelity, Carly and Kate get to know one another and bond in a strange friendship. Eventually, they join up with Mark’s younger and hotter mistress, Amber (Kate Upton), to get revenge on him for screwing around on all of them.
You know those Tyler Perry movies that start off making you think they’re going to be smart comedies, and then they just devolve into blatant stereotypes, juvenile messages about relationships, and cheesy dialogue? That’s exactly what The Other Woman was like (but for white women). It began so confident in its higher quality and then randomly decided to go lowbrow. But you know what? While I was disappointed, I was okay with this. I think it’s because I expected less, so I was surprised when it turned out to be as much fun as it was.
That being said, The Other Woman is missing something, and I just can’t put my finger on it. The overall tone of the movie is jarring, as if there’s a link between the first and second halves of the film that was never connected. Perhaps it’s because the first is more mature—two, middle-aged women realizing their relationships are founded on lies, which makes them question what they’re doing with their lives. It had a vibe that reminded me of It’s Complicated. But the second went John Tucker Must Die, which was just sad for women over 40. Fun, but sad.
Don’t get me wrong—this movie was much more mature than other “He cheated on me” comedies. At least in The Other Woman, the women didn’t go after each other. Rather, they went for the person who had actually wronged them. God, that’s refreshing. Not pitting women up against each other for the sake of a man.
Or, I should say, it was refreshing until the women started comparing their levels of hotness and arguing about who got to sleep with the man, which UGH. I’m not saying women don’t do that, but you’d think if you were making a film about the grown-up version of “girl power” that you’d at least try to be subtle about female generalization.
But, boy, do those stereotypes rear their ugly heads in this movie. The funny thing is that you can tell that writer Melissa Stack thinks she’s offering us something new. And to be fair, she does at times. The scene where Kate throws her ring into the ocean after Carly comforts her by telling her that a ring won’t mean anything when she decides to take it off is interesting (especially when it comes to the symbolism of marriage and commitment). But the rest? It’s derivative. Seriously, I can find the main stereotypes of every romantic or female-centric comedy in this movie. Shall I show you?
- Sexy, shrewd, emotionally-distant businesswoman (Diaz’s Carly)
- Neurotic housewife who’s pretty and sweet (Mann’s Kate)
- Big-boobed, girl-next-door type (Upton’s Amber)
- Token sassy black friend (Minaj’s Lydia)
- Smooth-talking, rich, handsome scumbag (Coster-Waldau’s Mark)
- “Nice guy” with muscles and pretty eyes (Kinney’s Phil)
- Sexually-crazed, multiple-time divorced parent (Johnson’s Frank)
Everything about these characters is like listening to generalized stand-up comedy about the sexes (“Men…they always want to have sex, am I right?”). Am I crazy for wanting something meatier here?
Surprisingly, the funniest part of this movie is its physical comedy, which is something usually key in male-centric comedies, like The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, Meet the Parents, etc. Mainly, it’s Carly and Kate getting into weird situations—like Kate shoving Carly out of a window when Mark comes home early. It’s silly, but they nail it.
These scenes are only undermined when the plot falls back into the typical revenge comedy jokes. Like giving Mark hormone pills, messing with his shampoo so he loses hair, tricking him into a threeway with a man, or putting laxatives in his drink until he shits his pants at dinner. You know what the worst part about that last one was? They didn’t even use their budget to get decent fart effects.
As for the actors? Leslie Mann steals the show. Not only does she do physical comedy well, but she added a touch of drama that this movie needed to up its maturity level (Think This is 40). Diaz is obviously the leader of the pack, and she looks fantastic, but her uptight Carly isn’t nearly as fleshed out as her very similar character in What Happens in Vegas. And Kate Upton exists in this movie for the purpose of boobs.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays hot scumbag well (not shocking for Jaime Lannister), but the whole scene at the end with him throwing a tantrum was a waste of his talent. Nicki Minaj was funnier than I expected, but she barely gets any screentime. Taylor Kinney is the male Kate Upton here, in that he’s only there to be eye candy. And all I can say about Don Johnson is what the hell is he doing to his face?
Overall, The Other Woman starts out as a promising comedy about two, middle-aged women learning about themselves after finding out about their shared relationship with a man. But then, it turns into a juvenile revenge comedy that relies on overused gags and gender stereotypes (hence my title for this review). Despite devolving quickly after its first half, the movie is still a fun ride that’s easy to enjoy when you put these issues out of your mind. Also, if it weren’t for Leslie Mann’s comedic prowess, this movie would’ve been much worse.
The Other Woman: C+
For my radio review of The Other Woman on “Pat & JT in the Morning,” visit this link (starts around the 21:06 mark).