So I sit down in the theater to watch THE OTHER WOMAN, the new comedy starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, and I realize in this relatively small gathering, that I’m the only guy in the audience. I’m surrounded by women.
In THE OTHER WOMAN, Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a successful New York City lawyer whose hot and heavy relationship with her boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) takes a hit when she discovers that he’s married, and Carly doesn’t date married men. She makes this discovery when she attempts to surprise him at his Connecticut home but instead finds his wife Kate (Leslie Mann) there.
When wife Kate learns that her husband has been having an affair with Carly, she oddly visits Carly because she “has no one else to talk to” about this situation. Really? There’s no one better to talk to than the woman your husband has been sleeping with?
Even more bizarre, the two women hit it off and become fast friends. This is supposed to be funny, but I had a hard time laughing when the whole relationship seemed so fake. When these two unlikely friends learn that Mark is cheating on both of them with a young supermodel named Amber (Kate Upton) they befriend her as well— why not, right?— and the three of them conspire against Mark to make him pay for his indiscretions. So, they work to ruin his health, his job, and his affair with yet another woman, although I’m surprised they didn’t make friends with her, too.
In terms of ruining Mark’s career, they don’t have to work too hard because they learn that Mark has been stealing money from his employer, and so their efforts at vengeance turn into a good deed as they expose him as a criminal.
While all this is going on, Carly falls in love with Kate’s handsome architect brother Phil (Taylor Kinney), while Amber falls for Kate’s playboy womanizer father Frank (Don Johnson) who in spite of his multiple marriages to women young enough to be his granddaughter knows how to treat women and so his womanizing is not frowned upon.
THE OTHER WOMAN didn’t really work for me. Its trailers gave away its funniest scenes, and its story came off as forced and contrived. I never completely bought that Kate would seek out a friendship with Carly, and I certainly didn’t buy that a shrewd lawyer like Carly would ever give Kate the time of day.
Stars Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann share an OK chemistry together, but compared to last summer’s hit THE HEAT (2013) in which Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy clicked instantly, Diaz and Mann don’t. It’s also difficult to laugh at a “buddy” comedy when you don’t believe the two characters could be buddies in the first place.
Cameron Diaz gets top billing, and she’s passable in the lead as Carly, the “other woman” who we’re not supposed to hate because she doesn’t date married men, and as soon as she learns that Mark is married, she wants no part of the relationship anymore. I get this, but then to believe that she’d become friends with the wife of the man who lied to her is a stretch. Diaz was much funnier in BAD TEACHER (2011).
Leslie Mann fares better than Diaz, and her portrayal of the oftentimes ditzy wife Kate is one of the better parts of the movie. I really enjoyed her scenes, and she had some laugh out loud moments. She also has one of the truer moments in the film, when she laments that she can’t date at her age, saying that when she used to date in her twenties, she didn’t even have to think about age since everyone was young, but that’s not the story now. Anyone dating today over 40 knows exactly what she’s talking about.
Kate Upton however is nothing more than some voluptuous eye candy, cast in this movie no doubt to attract some male viewers to this otherwise chick flick comedy. She’s acceptable, but her dumb blonde shtick is nothing we haven’t seen before.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from TV’s GAME OF THRONES is Mark, the unfaithful husband who can’t seem to stop seeing multiple women, but he’s portrayed here by Coster-Waldau more as a wimpy weasel than an unlikable creep. As such, watching him get his comeuppance at the hands of these three women is never as satisfying as it should be. I liked Coster-Waldau better in the horror movie MAMA (2013).
Don Johnson enjoys a few brief scenes as Frank, Carly’s think-young Hugh Hefner-like father, and he is a likable character. Taylor Kinney, on the other hand, as Kate’s near-perfect hunk of a brother, is so Prince Charming-like I wanted to throw up whenever he was in a scene.
As the movie goes along, director Nick Cassavetes steers things away from comedy and guides them towards romance, which is too bad because this movie needed to be funnier. Perhaps he missed directing THE NOTEBOOK (2004). At times, Cassavetes seems to be going for the laugh-out-loud raunchy comedy, but with a PG-13 rating the film never comes close to generating these kinds of laughs. The comedy is all very light.
And the film’s climactic moment when Mark finally gets what’s coming to him falls strangely flat, as if there wasn’t much to get excited about in the first place.
The screenplay by Melissa Stack doesn’t do the movie any favors. It presents an implausible situation, two women becoming friends who have no business doing so, puts them in situations that are never as funny as they’re supposed to be, and creates in hubby Mark a character who we never see acting as heinously as he’s purported to be.
There’s also no comic send-off for Mark at the end of the movie. While we learn what happens to the three women, nothing is said of Mark. The film misses its chance to show us what horrible future he has to endure.
THE OTHER WOMAN would have been more satisfying had it been wittier. Instead of honing its comedy it gravitates towards a feel-good silly romance, and neither genre works all that well, as both are mired in a story that isn’t all that believable.