Thursday, July 31, 2014

Movie Review: The Other Woman

The Other Woman
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes.
Wrtten by: Melissa K. Stack.
Starring: Cameron Diaz (Carly Whitten), Leslie Mann (Kate King), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Mark King), Kate Upton (Amber), Don Johnson (Frank), Taylor Kinney (Phil), Nicki Minaj (Lydia).

The most shocking thing about The Other Woman is that it was written by a woman. The female characters in the film are basically the most idiotic clichés that you can imagine – the type of female characters usually written by men who know nothing about women. The film turns the talented Leslie Mann into a whiny, annoying imbecile. It turns the also talented Cameron Diaz into a cold hearted, career driven bitch who finds her heart – which of course means that she will eventually find a man, because every woman must be empty without one. I`m not sure if Kate Upton is talented or not – this is the first time I’ve seen her in a movie, and while I was not overly impressed with her acting skills, it’s also clear that the movie is not really interested in those skills as much as her other assets. Women in Hollywood is still shamefully unrepresented – especially in directing and writing roles – so it makes even more sad that one of the few mainstream films this year that is written by a woman is somehow more misogynistic than most other films we`ll see this year. The damn thing is basically two or three women spending the entire movie talking to each other – but still somehow manages to fluke the Bechdel Test – because all they can take about is a man.

In the film, Diaz stars as Carly – a high powered Manhattan lawyer, whose personal life is basically a series of affairs. According to her assistant (Nicki Minaj), she doesn’t eve refer to the men by name – just a vague description of them. But Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is different – or so she thinks. She dumps everyone else to be exclusive with him. But then, when she goes to his house to surprise him, she meets Kate (Leslie Mann) – the wife Mark never mentioned. Carly has no interest in being anyone`s mistress – so she stops seeing Mark. But Kate won`t leave her alone – not to call her a bitch or a home wrecker, but because she has no else to talk to about how big an asshole Mark is. Eventually the pair figure out that Mark is seeing yet another woman – Amber (Upton) – and they enlist her as well. The basic plan – make the bastard pay.

Even if the three main female characters were insulting, one-dimensional stereotypes – The Other Woman still wouldn’t work very well. For one thing – it isn’t very funny. The film seems to try to repeat the trick that Bridesmaids pulled off – that is showing that women can be just as gross and disgusting as men can be in the movies. But the jokes in Bridesmaids – as gross as they became at times – were mainly funny. In The Other Woman, they fall flat. In Bridesmaids, we get to know and actually like the main characters as people, not just the clichés they seem to be when the movie opens. In The Other Woman, the movie has no interest in moving past those clichés. When it came out, I thought that Bridesmaids was somewhat overrated – it was good, it wasn’t that good – but a film like The Other Woman shows just how hard it was to pull a film like that off at all.

I don’t want to spend too much time criticizing the performances in the film – especially by the three women. For Diaz and Mann, their roles seem to be the cliché ridden roles that they usually avoid – or in the case of Mann, when she works with husband Judd Apatow, often turns on their head to make the seemingly whiny woman into something much deeper. Here, she’s just annoying – and that’s a function of the screenplay more than the performance. I don’t even want to dump on Upton – who plays the bubbly, dumb but lovable blonde as well as they movie allows her to. She may never be much of an actress – but I cannot tell from this movie.

In short, The Other Woman is a bad film. A really, really bad one. Not only is the film not funny, which would be bad enough, but it also left a bad taste in my mouth. Its one thing for a comedy to simply miss the mark – it happens all the time. It’s another to repackage all the clichés people complain about all the time, and wrap it up in one movie – and turn talented actresses into offensive stereotypes. Sadly, that’s what The Other Woman does.

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