Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton
Director: Nick Cassavetes
Screenplay: Melissa Stack
Comedy/Drama, Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: April 25, 2014
Carly/Kate/Amber: Ensemble, P-P Moral, Pro (Untransformed Sorority Heroes)
Mark: Single, N-N Moral, Ant (Untransformed Lone Villain)
Just another review about another man’s other woman. Let’s recap.
We’re introduced to high-powered attorney Carly (Cameron Diaz) who has found the perfect man. Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is an entrepreneur and drop dead sexy. Carly is so excited about Mark that she has “cleared the bench” and dates no one else. Eight weeks into the relationship Mark cancels a date with Carly because the toilets at his house have overflowed. Carly is not pleased and sends Mark home. Later that night, she regrets her anger and shows up on Mark’s front door dressed as a sexy female plumber only to be greeted by Mark’s wife Kate (Leslie Mann).
Needless to say, Carly is devastated by Mark’s deceit. But her visit to Mark’s home arouses suspicion in Kate, who stops by Carly’s office and discovers that Mark has been cheating on her. Carly and Kate form an alliance and follow Mark to Florida where they discover that he has a third lover, a buxom blonde named Amber (Kate Upton). The three women conspire to make Mark’s life miserable, and in so doing they discover that Mark has some dark financial secrets which they can use against him.
Scott, in our book Reel Heroes: Volume 1 we categorize heroes into three groupings: Lone Heroes, Duos, and Ensembles. This is an Ensemble hero story. We break Ensembles into The Family, Military & Police, and Fraternity. This movie falls into the last category, only it is more of a Sorority. And on top of that, it’s a revenge plot. These women are out for blood.
It’s not a complex story. The majority of the rest of the movie is scene after scene of making Mark look bad. And he plays right into the women’s plans to make him suffer. Meanwhile, Kate (the wife) is teetering on the verge of forgiving him as he is making their little company grow. But ultimately you know how it has to end, with Mark looking like a big bad schmuck.
Greg, are you ready for another food analogy? Watching The Other Woman is like sitting down for a meal and being served popcorn followed by salt water taffy for dessert. It’s a disappointment, but this assumes you’re expecting a big meal. Most people who go to see The Other Woman are probably only expecting a light snack at best, but even with this expectation this film provides only mediocre fare.
A good romantic comedy, such as last year’s About Time, has some depth to it or at least a take-home message we can chew on for a while. The Other Woman delivers only light, puffy jiffy pop. The nicest thing I can say about the movie is that the lead characters are likeable people who are pleasing for men like me to look at. There are no laugh-out-loud moments, only a few smiles here and there. The Other Woman isn’t a complete waste of time but it is one of the more forgettable movies I’ve seen.
I thought the writers took pains to make Cameron Diaz’s character look more heroic than villainous. Since she is The Other Woman in this story, she could be played up like a home wrecker. The writers wisely painted Mark and Kate King as a couple without children. Adding kids to the mix would definitely have complicated things and made Carly a villain. The other thing they did was to have Carly exclaim (at least twice) “I’m not a mistress! I didn’t know he was married.” This tries to remind the audience that she was an unwitting accomplice in the adultery.
Kate King is played in some very odd ways. In one scene she is portrayed as the frumpy housewife where she literally goes to the bathroom in front of her husband as he brushes his teeth. Later, she is portrayed as the brains of the couple’s business as she describes her latest internet idea to one of Mark’s collaborators. However, in every other scene she is played as ditzy and naive. I found her character to be whatever the writers needed her to be whenever it was convenient.
Finally we have young Amber. As you’ve pointed out, Ms. Kate Upton is in this film for visual appeal only. While she doesn’t embarrass herself on-screen, she is no actor. It takes skill to play the dumb blonde and Ms. Upton isn’t up to the challenge. There are several shots of her in bikinis running in slow motion on the beach. So, the men in the audience have something to look at while the real actors in the show carry out the plot.
The hero story is a shallow pond, only going about ankle-deep into the classic hero journey. As you’ve noted, Greg, this movie features an ensemble of heroes who are certainly thrown into a dark, unfamiliar world, just as mythologist Joseph Campbell would expect to see in a hero story. But there aren’t really any other elements of the hero journey that are worth mentioning. To the movie’s credit, Kate does undergo a transformation of confidence, becoming an independent woman both personally and professionally.
The less said about Kate Upton’s acting, the better. In fact, her character, Amber, has such a limited and impoverished role that you could argue persuasively that this is a buddy hero movie featuring Kate and Carly. Amber would then be a rather minor sidekick or ally to the hero duo.
That’s an apt observation, Scott. The villain in this story is about as two-dimensional as they come. Mark King is a womanizer and a liar and has no redeeming qualities. We feel no sympathy for him and that makes the bullying and revenge on him seem valid. In the end, the women find that he not only cheated on his wife, but set her up as the patsy in a confidence scheme. That leads to a confrontation scene that seemingly justifies his complete humiliation. It’s pretty trite stuff.
You took the words right out of my mouth, Greg. The villain, Mark, is a scumbag with no redeeming qualities, making it easy for us to root for our heroes while they torment him and vanquish him. The women give him drugs that make his hair fall out, and we see large strands of hair being extracted, but strangely enough Mark always has a full head of hair in every scene. There’s not much density in the villain story here, certainly not enough for someone like me, who has a food fetish, to sink my teeth into.
The Other Woman is a light comedy that tries nothing new and is a vehicle for its leads to play together on-screen. The girlfriend dynamic between Diaz and Mann is entertaining and they let young Upton play along. The two leads do a good job and deliver decent performances so I give The Other Woman 2 out of 5 Reels.
The heroes in this story aren’t very strong. Diaz’s character is a lawyer, but we don’t see much lawyering going on here. Mann’s wife character is clueless and a victim for most of the film and we don’t much care about her. And Upton is only there for looks. I give them just 2 Heroes out of 5.
And the villain is a cardboard cutout of everything women hate in men. He gets only 1 Villain out of 5 from me.
The Other Woman is a throwaway movie, in that it follows an overused formula of the betrayal of love and typical act of vengeance. Movies that rely on such a common storyline cannot stand out unless they truly excel in other areas, but this film can make no such claim. If you are a Cameron Diaz fanatic, then this movie will appeal to you; otherwise, I recommend staying away. Like you, Greg, I award this film 2 Reels out of 5.
The hero duo was unremarkable and followed the familiar path of two people disliking each other at first and then growing to be best buddies. Leslie Mann’s character has some annoying verbal mannerisms that almost made me feel empathy for the villain Mark. Cameron Diaz remains a terrific actress and plays a very smart, likeable character here. Because they break no new ground, I can only award this duo (or trio if you like) 2 Heroes out of 5.
The villain Mark is entirely forgettable. Greg, you are generous by endowing him with 2 dimensions when it is hard to discern any. This movie is an example of a story in which the villain is a mere prop, and the entire film hinges on the success or failure of the rest of the cast and story. So for a lightweight villain, I agree that he only deserves one puny Villain out of 5.