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Is the Lady a Tramp? Movie review of ‘The Other Woman’

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The Other Woman is the type of film that women love. In a some small way I think Hollywood is starting to understand that women don’t want their so-called “chick flicks” focused on a character dying from an incurable disease or formulaic romance comedies. Sure, Other might have its gross bits (basically a dog doing what dogs do when they turned around in circles) but surely that is not something people have never seen.

The Other Woman stars Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and cinematic newcomer Kate Upton. Woman was an interesting project to take on for all three women. Her role as Carly Whitten marks a change in Diaz’s career in loosely defined romantic comedies where she isn’t the central “hot one.” Granted she looks great, but she is cinematically facing the fact that she is no longer the unchallengeable John McEnroe (a joke in the film) of hotness. Diaz deserves credit for transforming a career that started out as the ultimate model/actress to one where she has been able to play up her strengths while challenging herself in a variety of film roles. What began with a fluke casting in The Mask twenty years ago has grown an established Hollywood career.

This is the first comedy in memory that Leslie Mann has taken on a character that doesn’t have her husband Judd Apatow’s, input as producer, director, or writer. Her career has progressed from doing commercials, to starring in memorable secondary roles in films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and to leading roles including the misstep of This Is Forty.* With The Other Woman she is back on the right path. Mann’s character, Kate King, is manic and charming and Mann goes full Lucy Ricardo with the physical comedy. You can’t help but love King as she watches the wedding video of her ending marriage while dressed in her once treasured bridal gown sucking down canned whipped cream through the veil.

Lastly, this role was a brilliant career move for Upton (her people should be proud – BTW, I’m not being ironic) because she comes off as likeable with a side serving of Gracie Allen. It is the smallest role of the trio and is a nice start for a model dipping her enlarged toe into the acting world. And yes, she is the “hot one.”

I would not label The Other Woman as the summer’s breakout comedy, but it does show the impact that Bridesmaids had on comedic films. If this was a film from the 1940s the comedy would have been based on how each of the women have to scheme to get the villainess Mr. King (played by Game of Thrones favorite twin brother/lover Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to be their own Mr. Exclusive. The women would have been pitted against each other or forming alliances to get the biggest threat voted off the tribe a la Survivor. In some ways The Other Woman is a modern day version of 9 to 5 except without the workplace politics.

I recommend The Other Woman if you have not seen it already. It makes for a fun evening with friends and will play well on DVD and cable.

*This is Forty was one of those films I had high expectations for (Aptow had even been the guest editor of Vanity Fair in anticipation for the film). The previews made it look like a fun film that one could possible take the whole family to if your family included teenagers on up. However the film was a mixed bag that seemed to have no central script per se and went in several hundred directions. What made it worse was the nudity involving Leslie Mann. I am the type of nudity prude that will accept nudity in the context of a story but not in the context of nudity for nudity sake. The central theme of the film was a comedy about turning forty and what that means physically, emotionally and in terms of being a parent. I did not feel Mann’s breasts added anything to the theme besides a little shock value to a project she was starring in with her actual real-life daughters playing her children and her husband directing. Overall, I felt there was a good film that could have had brilliant insights buried beneath everything else.

Happy viewing!

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