‘The Other Woman’ An Amusing Comedy


The problem with The Other Woman, a reasonably decent comedy, is that it does not quite follow up on its strong points. Presumably a feminist answer to the raunchy comedies in which men take advantage of women, usually portrayed as stereotypes, and generally get away with it, this movie seems to put forward the idea that it somehow is better when women do it. The problem is that in order to get away with it, the male lead, the bad guy, becomes a stereotype. To make the vengeance done to him acceptable, he has to have no redeeming qualities, and the women have to be wonderfully charming.

Tough attorney Carly (Cameron Diaz) is enjoying a wonderful relationship with boyfriend Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). He is sexy, charming and attentive. Everything seems perfect until he tells her he has to go home on the evening he’s supposed to meet Carly’s dad (Don Johnson) because his housekeeper called him about a plumbing emergency. She is furious, but her father, working through his fifth divorce, suggests she put on a sexy outfit and go visit him. She puts on the most sexist plumber’s outfit I have ever seen, and when a woman answers the door, she meets the perfect boyfriend’s wife.

The next day, wife Kate (Leslie Mann) comes to the large law office and, once her husband’s cheating has been confirmed, has a nervous breakdown that leads to a drinking bout with Carly.  After a time, they somehow become friendly. These are the best moments in the movie, as both actresses display their vulnerability and comedic ability. Then they discover another girlfriend, the well-endowed and very young Amber (Kate Upton), who also becomes a friend.

They decide on revenge against Mark, with Kate able to use her proximity to find out more information. He gets dosed with laxatives, winds up shampooing with Nair (there is a scene where he watches his hair fall out, but somehow, his hair winds up looking good in the scenes following it) and winds up being fed enough female hormones to start developing breasts. At any rate, after a series of uncomfortable scenes, Kate discovers that Mark, who has been using her ideas to create start-up companies, is stealing from his boss but making certain that only her name is all over the documents. She and her friends use the knowledge to face up to Mark in a final confrontation that completely ruins him, which allows the women to each have a happy ending.

The cast is fine, particularly Mann. She has made a career of playing neurotic women and, in this film, adds a level of hysteria and physical comedy that is spectacular. Not surprisingly, she got howls from the audience. Diaz, as usual, was a good physical comedian and became the rock upon which the film was built. Upton is a spectacular beauty and, while her part was not difficult, held her own as the rather spacy Amber. Coster-Waldau had the most difficult part, having to be charming, slimy and pathetic in turn. Those of us who watch him as Jamie Lannister on Game of Thrones know how well he can handle all the roles. He and director Nick Cassavetes were smart to let him lose the charm near the end as his world crashes. Nickie Minaj handled the role of a feisty secretary well. Taylor Kinney is good as Kate’s brother, probably the only really decent guy in the film. Don Johnson does well as the swinger dad.

I like comedies and wish we had more of them. The women in the theater not only outnumbered the men, but also clearly enjoyed the film more than the men. There were enough funny lines and situations to make the movie a good one, although people should be warned that the film was as raw and raunchy as any of the male-centered ones of similar mold.

It was a nice break from a long succession of spectacular special-effects movies. They have been great, and soon we’ll see people who are like spiders leaping around buildings, gigantic super-lizards and a whole lot of mutants. Of course, Kate Upton in a tiny bikini is a special effect in itself. Real-life people dealing with crazy situations can be enjoyable. This is a pretty good date-night movie and one that most people will enjoy.