“The Other Woman” stars Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann and at its best, it’s a female empowerment movie. Unfortunately, it’s at its worst most of the time. And maybe we can blame that on Leslie Mann’s real-life husband.
Mann’s spouse is the uber-successful director Judd Apatow who helped turn R-rated comedies into one of Hollywood’s most reliable box office commodities. Hits like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” spawned a string of refreshingly vulgar comedies over the last decade. The decidedly male point of view of those films was then successfully turned upside down by producer Apatow in the female-centric smash hit “Bridesmaids.” That film proved women were as adept as men at rude, crude, inspired comedy.
What “The Other Woman” proves is that mildly crude female-centric comedies can also be dull and uninspired. Maybe the wave of vulgar comedies, for both men and women, has run its course.
In the broadest of terms, “The Other Woman” is a comedy about revenge and female bonding. Leslie Mann plays the mousy wife of a man who’s cheating on her with a hot lawyer played by Cameron Diaz. The potentially intriguing premise is that the two “rivals” become wary friends, bonding over the fact that the same man lied to both of them. When yet another mistress (Kate Upton) shows up on the scene, she too joins forces with them. The three women then plot their revenge on the incorrigible man (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, from Game of Thrones.)
This movie is at its best early on, when Mann first discovers and then awkwardly confronts Diaz about her cheating husband. Mann’s comic desperation is both funny and highly relatable. And Diaz nicely conveys the awkwardness of her own situation, feeling suddenly trapped by the neediness of her lover’s wife.
But whatever clever insights into the human condition the film might have had are quickly snuffed out in an avalanche of broad slapstick-schtick that barely generates a smile, let alone a good laugh.
Bodily functions unfortunately predominate – a well-dressed man soils himself in a fancy restaurant, thanks to a heavy dose of laxatives; a woman throws up into a tiny purse; a giant dog defecates in a spotless apartment, and on and on and on.
And poor Kate Upton – she may have the body of a goddess but the way the slow-motion camerawork reduces her to nothing but her breasts and backside, it’s embarrassing.
Diaz’s character even refers to this trio of women as “the wife, the lawyer, and the boobs.” When Upton delivers her occasional lines, it only makes matters worse.
There might be an audience out there for this very sloppy and haphazardly constructed comedy. I can see it working as a movie night cap to a Girls-Night-Out kind of thing (in which large quantities of alcohol are consumed.) Or maybe as the centerpiece of a man-bashing “pity party.”
But for most of us, men and women alike, “The Other Woman” will make us want to seek out some other movie. Any other movie.