The latest in a female-centered revenge comedy genre that extends from “9 to 5” through “She-Devil,” “The Other Woman” is intended to be a merry little tale of female empowerment and grrrl power. Instead it is soggy, haphazard, poorly paced slapstick mansplained by director Nick Cassavetes from a script by Melissa Stack.
Cameron Diaz (who gave one of her best performances in Cassavetes’ soapy “My Sister’s Keeper”) plays Carly, a tough-as-nails corporate lawyer with a beautiful office overlooking Central Park. She meets handsome Mark King (“Game of Thrones'” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, utterly lost in a thankless role). For eight weeks he is thoughtful, attentive, and so hot that she has “cleared the bench” of other guys, she explains to a criminally underused Nicki Minaj as her secretary. (The movie I’d like to see is Nicki Minaj going after a man who cheated on her.) But then Carly discovers that Mark is married. To Kate (Leslie Mann, in her “I’m going to pretend I don’t know I’m pretty and act like a total klutzy ditz” mode). With a house in the Connecticut suburbs. And a very big dog.
Kate falls apart. Carly tells her to cry on on the inside “like a winner.” How long before the big dog makes a mess of Carly’s impeccable white apartment? How long before the two women are trying on clothes, discussing bikini waxes, doing each other’s hair and make-up and having a big sloppy drunk bonding moment? How long before they discover that Mark was cheating on both of them with Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl Kate Upton? How long before she goes running toward us on the beach in slo-mo wearing a tiny white bikini?
Except for that last one, the answer to all of the above is way, way too long. But Kate Upton does look pretty great running in the bikini.
The trio decide that Mark must be punished. So Kate gives him estrogen in his smoothie and depilatory in his shampoo and Carly puts laxative in his drink. There’s an excruciating bathroom scene. Though it is funny when the only replacement pants he can find are red skinny jeans from a hipster.
Then they go after his money. All of this requires a lot of girly support group stuff, which is bad, and a lot of slapstick, which is much worse. All but about two or three of the best moments (a relative concept) are in the trailer. Comedic setups are poised to go off, then abandoned without resolution. The woman exist for no reason except in relation to this unappealing man.
This is a movie about sisterhood and female empowerment that makes fun of Kate Upton’s character for being a dumb blonde and makes fun of Cameron Diaz for wishing she had Kate Upton’s figure. This is a comedy that lets us know we are back in New York City by playing Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York” and lets us know the women are having fun with their revenge plan by playing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” The few witty lines and funny situations are lost in a headache-inducing cacophony, emphasis on the first two syllables.
Parents should know that the theme of the movie is adultery and betrayal. It includes crude sexual references and non-explicit situations, drinking and drunkenness, smoking, drug reference, comic peril and violence, and gross potty humor.
Family discussion: Why did the women become friends? Why were they so misled by Mark?
If you like this, try: “The First Wives Club,” “She-Devil” (and the better original version, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil) and “9 to 5”