With almost no exceptions, there is nothing enjoyable about watching other people pretend to have fun in a movie. If anything, it reminds you that what the characters on screen are doing is so much more entertaining that what you've been up to in your life lately. My personal favorite example of this is watching people in a film at an amusement park. How does it make my life any more exciting watching people on a roller coaster? I'm sure you have your own example. Lately in some romantic comedies or other films that think they're appealing to women, this idea that people would get some pleasure out of watching women get together, drink, try on dresses, do each other's hair, and put on makeup is infuriating. And if you do get a kick out of watching actors in a movie that doesn't star you do this, I can't help you. I'm not saying that these activities can't be fun if you do them yourselves (like me and my girlfriends do), but how is watching others do it entertainment?
Welcome to THE OTHER WOMAN from director Nick Cassavetes (let that sink in for a minute), the filmmaker who brought us THE NOTEBOOK, SHE'S SO LOVELY, and MY SISTER'S KEEPER, a film that actually does have a story that could have been made into a relevant statement about cheating men, but instead decides to focus its attentions on women united by a single penis getting drunk, screaming and acting generally slap-happy at all times.
The alleged plot of
involves corporate lawyer Carly (Cameron Diaz), who has been dating Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of MAMA and "Game of Thrones") for a couple of months and thinks this great guy might be something special. She's stopped dating all other men, so that should tell you something. We find out slightly before Carly does that Mr. Perfect is actually married to Kate (Leslie Mann of THIS IS 40 and THE BLING RING), and when Carly decides to surprise Mark at his home one night and Kate answers the door, Kate figures a few things out for herself and has a colossal meltdown. She loses her perspective so much that she shows up at Carly's house to find out just how bad the problem really is, and in the process they get loaded, try on shoes and clothes, and bond over the fact that the same man screwed them over. Revenge seems like the only option, followed quickly by divorce.
While digging into Mark's professional and extracurricular life as an arranger of start-up companies and a chronic adulterer, the women find out that he has yet another mistress, Amber (supermodel Kate Upton), whom they naturally approach and recruit into their plot to hurt Mark where it will crush him the most. While the film sets itself up as a wacky comedy about three women done wrong, there's something really sad and sexist going on here. The screenplay (by Melissa K. Stack) seems determined to make sure all of the women end up with a man, so random unnecessary male character are introduced to make sure that happens, and it seriously clutters the film. Oh look, there's Don Johnson as Carly's womanizing dad, and hey, there Taylor Kinney as Kate's handsome contractor brother. Really?
It hurt me to watch these three capable (to varying degrees) women seemingly toss away whatever they do with the rest of their lives to focus on this bastard of a man. But it feels dishonest to paint each of the women as hapless victims, especially Carly, who seems to be the most experienced on the dating/sex scene, yet she refuses to be a home-wrecker by dating a married man. I'm not questioning her morals about being a certified mistress; it's more about the fact that she'd want such nasty revenge on a guy who lied to her about it, because in the dating world, lying NEVER happens. Pretty much ever step of this film feels like overcompensating.
While I was certainly happy to see Mark get the screws put to him, the method of revenge is telegraphed from the first moment we meet Kate, when Mark asks her to sign some business documents about companies that are clearly being run in her name. Gee, I wonder if that will come into play in the third act? I'd actually like to think I'd be able to have fun in a film about seeking vengeance on a cheating spouse. A truly dark, nasty comedy on the subject could be a great deal of fun.
But THE OTHER WOMAN is not that film. It wants it all—the laughs, the giddy-girl fun time, the romantic-comedy vibe, and the revenge sting. What it is instead is a screechy mess, a film that thinks people talking over each other passes for comedy, or that long-legged, beautiful women trying to run or creep around in high heels is funny. This is an abysmal time at the movies, and I hope women around the world rise up and defy works like this once and for all, not only because it's insulting but because it's in no way entertaining. I'd be happy to lead the male contingent.