The Other Woman (2014) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, sexual references and language
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Kate Upton, Don Johnson, Taylor Kinney, Nicki Minaj
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay: Melissa K. Stack
Review published April 27, 2014
Half a funny movie does not a good movie make. The Other Woman is a classic case of a tired plot rearing its ugly head and completely ruining what might have otherwise been a hilarious romp in the vein of Bridesmaids.
Leslie Mann (Rio 2, Mr. Peabody & Sherman) co-stars as Kate, the loving wife of philandering Mark (Coster-Waldau, Oblivion), who has been having an affair with Carly (Diaz, The Counselor). Carly has no idea her beau is married until she tries to surprise him at his home and meets Kate, and the two form a fast friendship as jilted women who don't want to see Mark get away with betraying them both. All the while they scheme on what to do about getting Kate's ducks in a row for a costly divorce, their plan to withhold affection with Mark is largely ignored by him when they discover Amber (Upton, The Three Stooges), the third woman in his string of relationships. It's decided that just a divorce isn't enough; they're going to make him pay and suffer in as miserable a way possible.
With lots of highly improvised interplay between a very game Mann and Diaz, The Other Woman hits a very good stride early on in terms of irreverent, offbeat laughs. While Diaz is on the money as the film's "straight man" of sorts, this is really Leslie Mann's chance to shine as a lead comedienne in an effort that should make film producers other than Judd Apatow take note of her talent. Mann is by far the best part of The Other Woman with one of the better total-ditz characterizations, channeling Lucile Ball quite well, to grace the screen in recent years, taking what might have been stale and tired and making it feel very fresh and funny. Given their evident on-screen chemistry, it would be great to see these two team up again in a better film.
Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, John Q) directs and lets the two talented comedic performers work their magic with one another. Cassavetes' record had been hit and miss in prior efforts, but he has delivered well in films geared more toward women in such respectable efforts as The Notebook and My Sister's Keeper, which also featured a well-drawn out performance by Diaz in a lead role. He even is able to get Coster-Waldau to uncover some impressive comedic chops he hadn't really shown before on film or television. However, as much of an actors' director as Cassavetes has been known to be, there's only so much he can do for the likes of bikini bombshell Kate Upton and perpetually-smiling male model Taylor Kinney (Zero Dark Thirty), whose inability to emote like normal humans sucks all the air out of the comedy whenever they appear on screen. Nicki Minaj (Ice Age: Continental Drift) offers an interesting personality to the mix, if you can get over the nails-on-a-chalkboard effect of her cartoonishly squeaky voice inflections.
Unfortunately, once we get into the 9 to 5-esque plot (some might also be reminded of The First Wives Club, Chasing Papi, or John Tucker Must Die) of three women who plane to get a lot of slapstick-tinged revenge on the man who scorned them, nearly all of the sure-footed comedy goes out the door. While a scene in which Mark gets laxatives slipped into his drink draws out the sure guffaws for those who titter at bathroom humor, that scene is also the last laugh to be had for most of the viewing audience, who will likely grow impatient for the next 30 minutes wondering when the next big gag is going to come into play. Alas, the film goes down all the wrong roads, with a snooze-inducing major plot point involving Mark's shady money dealings that feels like it belongs in another movie. And the only real jokes after this are just of Mark getting injured running into glass walls and such, in case his well-deserved comeuppance seems not enoug,h and being on the receiving end of punches needs to be in place of genuine punch lines.
With the requisite eye candy provided by the three leads, and with quite a bit of potty humor, it's the kind of female-centric movie that many men won't find too taxing, but unless you are willing to give the movie a pass for running out of comedic steam about two-thirds of the way through, there just isn't quite enough for an overall recommendation. Two very funny lead performances remain the high point, and they do deliver some good laugh-out-loud moments to make up for the anemic idea for a story, but eventually even they can't cover over the film's many lapses into uninspired directions for the plot to go. Like a marriage that has run its course, though initially providing mirth and excitement, The Other Woman soon becomes routine and grating, leading many viewers with a wandering eye for fresher cinematic pursuits.
©2014 Vince Leo