The Other Woman is a raunchy comedy that wants to be taken emotionally seriously while promoting the fact that woman are awesome and can easily take the lead in any kind of film. It basically wants to be Bridesmaids, but unlike that modern comedy classic it instead comes off as crass and completely insulting to the very female characters it wants to glorify. Falling quickly into tropes, stereotypes and comic cliches it veers dangerously into trouble as its attempt at female empowerment turns into the worst case of justice porn this side of a serial killer getting killed at the end of a horror film.
It’s a despicable film that clearly has no idea what it’s doing as it contradicts its own themes constantly throughout its entire run, eventually landing in a big puddle of false feminism that would set the movement back years if anyone actually cared about the movie. Oh, and there’s a pooping scene. Because when you’re not actually funny you always run to poop.
The Other Woman
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Release Date: April 25, 2014
The premise behind The Other Woman isn’t half bad. Kate King (Leslie Mann) is married to Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is also dating Mark. Neither know about the other. When Cameron shows up at Mark’s house unexpectedly Kate finds out he’s been having an affair and Carly finds out he’s married. With no one else to talk to about it the two bond and enter into each others lives.
If the film went from there into a comedy about these two women coping with the issue of a cheating husband/boyfriend it could have been quite enjoyable. Mann and Diaz actually play off each other fantastically, and for the first 20 minutes or so of the film the comedy actually clicked since it was basically them riffing and getting drunk. It’s when the two discover that there is a third woman, Amber (Kate Upton), that things go drastically downhill. As the three women plot to destroy Mark the movie plunges headlong into every trope and cliche that any raunchy comedy has ever had — especially the ones that debase female characters and turn them into punchlines. This is all being done while Mark is crafted into some sort of soulless devil whose only goal in life is to be evil.
By the time the movie ends almost all character development and interest is gone and instead we’re given insulting paper cut outs of the stereotypes that we’d expect from an American Pie sequel. Amber is easily the worst of the lot as her character is nothing more than a dumb bimbo who gratuitously runs down the beach in slow motion in a bikini. At this point it’s entirely unclear what the film is even going for as there is no way in hell that they were trying to use the scene ironically and failed that badly at it. (Honest Side Note: I’m going for clicks to this review with that header.)
If the message is that men who objectify women are evil why is the entire film’s premise based around objectifying women who are so obsessed with one man it consumes their entire life? Maybe Mann’s character has an excuse, but Diaz’s and Upton’s are suffering form one sadistic case of Schadenfreude. It ruins the parts of the film that try to say something more and drags down what could have been admittedly funny comedy since it’s in such start contrast to the rest of the film.
There are some comedic strong points in the film. Mann and Diaz dish out some very solid one-liners and that poop scene I mocked in the opening is actually a pretty descent one. Still, the comedy just simply trails off as the film loses more and more of its identity. The film’s conclusion, (spoilers) which sees Mark basically beaten to a pulp by a building and then cast out literally broken is just painful to watch and even more painfully unfunny. If you’re trying to go for revenge in a film about female empowerment tipping entirely into male destruction isn’t the best way to go.
It is clear that Coster-Waldau is both incredibly sexy and really good at playing a total dick, but he’s been playing Jaimie Lannister in Game of Thrones so we didn’t really need this movie to tell that. It’s too bad he couldn’t jump into film asshole-dom with a better role.
The Other Woman is a movie that thinks its about women and kinship and the power of friends, but what it’s really about is the same old cliches you’ll find in any raunchy comedy. Now comedy is supposed to play on stereotypes and cliches, but when you’re clearly trying to work against them and you simply propagate them more it makes your comedy stale and your message even more so. For 20 minutes The Other Woman plays out like the female led comedy it should, and then it morphs into a contradictory pile of triteness.