The Other Women Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
Looking for a fun, dippy romcom about female empowerment? Then look no further, for The Other Woman has landed in cinemas nationwide. It possesses a topical feminist message and chronicles the escapades of three independent-minded, cliché-riddled, persecuting women who decide to enact a delicious revenge on Mark (Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a modern day silky suave Don Juan, because who says the girls’ lives have to be ruined and not his? With a cast including the likes of Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, what could go wrong? A lot, it seems.
Diaz stars as Carly, a brazen lawyer that speaks her mind and who has Mark as her significant other. Everything is going well until he’s unexpectedly called back home to investigate a burst pipe so Carly decides to surprise him, dressed in a sexy plumber’s gear. But, what’s this, he has a wife?! Leslie Mann takes the role of the ditzy Kate, and plays her with a painful eagerness so by the end of the woefully long run time her talents have been squandered. Kate and Carly decide it’s time to get even and spend a large chunk of the movie pursuing their oily man around and talking about him to an excessive degree. The next twist in the tale is that Mark has yet another woman on the go: fluffy Amber (played by relative newcomer Kate Upton). The group has now become a sisterhood and the three, tired of being screwed over by Mark, plan their vengeance.
Through hair-loss lotion, hormone replacement drugs (“Enough for a pre-op transgender,” laughs Kate; nobody batting an eyelid) and laxatives – make sure you’re eating nothing in a gross-out bathroom sequence with the soundtrack of that Bridesmaids scene – the women get back at Mark, and I felt more than a little uncomfortable watching them lace his water, shampoo and alcohol with all manner of powders and creams. He may be a complete love rat (and, in no way, am I condoning his philandering ways) but some of the things they do are pretty grim but, still, all in the name of comedy.
The Other Woman really falls down in one area: the writing. Melissa K. Stack’s script is an old chestnut, littered with slapstick gags (do we really need to see Cameron Diaz falling into a bush more than once?) and awful clichés; pop songstress Nicki Minaj pops up briefly as the mouthy assistant to Diaz’s lawyer. What could have been an enjoyable exercise in female empowerment falls flat on its face, much like Diaz when she hilariously snaps the heel on one of her stilettos, collides with a great urn and topples headfirst into shrubbery. Mann’s (whom I have always held in high regard) character is the worst culprit. Kate is portrayed as a scatterbrained housewife that slowly blossoms into someone greater, except she hardly does and while she’s got her hands in many baskets by the end, she’s still kooky and clingy. Tragically, Mann tries gamely to do her best with the material but Stack’s script is just too laden down with banalities. In the end, we’re supposed to laugh at petite Mann struggling to keep her gigantic, untrained dog under control and watch as (oh-no!) he defecates on the floor of Carly’s snappy apartment.
It would be unfair to criticise Diaz and Upton, too. Both, like Mann, wrestle with the duff script but, by the end, they just don’t win. Coster-Waldau, who has impressed in the past as Jaime Lannister, is reduced to a boo-hiss baddy as he petulantly fumes when the women get back at him. It’s unfortunate that the talented cast had to take part in The Other Woman.
You may argue that I’m not the target audience for this specific film (the banner in my local multiplex claimed it was “the perfect girls’ night out movie”. Also keep in mind that I went during the day) but I’ve always been susceptible to a good romcom (e.g. The Proposal) so it can be my cup of tea. But when I see a bad one, it really is bad. Venture out of the cosy warmth of your home to see The Other Woman, if you wish but it’s not at all smart. Or funny. Or good.