Romantic comedies have basically created the archetypes of the feuding females. Movies like “Bride Wars” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding” have mined laughs from the petty feuds that pit women against each other, usually fighting over a man. It’s rare when women team up as friends to work towards a common goal. “The Other Woman” takes the tired cliché and turns it on its head by having its lead characters work together rather than fight each over for the man of their collective dreams.
Carly (Cameron Diaz) has found the love of her life in Mark, causing her to “clear the bench” of all the other men she is casually dating. There is just one problem; Mark is married to Kate (Leslie Mann)! Upon the discovery, Carly is dragged into a friendship with Kate as they bond over being deceived by the same man. When the find out he is cheating on both of them with another – younger – woman (Kate Upton), they all team up to pay him back for his misdeeds. The remainder of the film devolves into “The First Wives Club” for a new generation, where the wife teams up with replacements to exact revenge on her husband instead of turning to friends.
“The Other Woman” is the next great female-centric comedy, offering laughs from the trio’s complementary skill sets. Mann – the MVP of the film – plays up the physical comedy while going into over the top hysterics about her crumbling marriage. Diaz offers a grounded approach with more of the comedic punchlines coming from her sharp tongue and ball busting attitude. Upton, who is thankfully seen more than she is heard, chirps in with the dumb twenty something comments at just the right moments, allowing for maximum impact. Though the role isn’t much of a stretch, rapper Nicki Minaj is thrown in for good measure as Carly’s assistant, who is quick with the one liners.
While Diaz is more than fitting in the role of man eating, workaholic Carly, it is hard to overlook the fact that she is quickly aging out of the young romantic lead category. Now in the over 40 year old bracket, she looks good for her age – though she is starting to look more and more like Madonna everyday – but is the same age as Mann’s jilted wife. Her role really should have been played by someone a decade younger to better bridge the gap between Mann’s wife and trophy girlfriend Upton.
The problem that “The Other Woman” suffers from throughout is its emotional pandering to its audience. Slow motion montages depicting the blossoming relationship between Carly and Mark, or Kate’s introspective, soul searching while trying to decide if she is ready to end her marriage don’t fit the overall feel of the film. Even the obligatory slow motion beach run by Upton seems out of place. Director Nick Cassavetes is more known for his tear inducing female films like “The Notebook” and “My Sister’s Keeper,” where this type of manipulation is common place. But romantic comedies aren’t the place to try to force emotion out of the audience, especially in a film with a script that has already fleshed the female characters out enough.
Despite Diaz being slightly miscast, “The Other Woman” offers up mile a minute laughs and ends up being enjoyable brain candy. With a dearth of comedies currently in release, “The Other Woman” is filling a void. The summer blockbuster season is still a few weeks off, but this is a good appetizer of what is to come in the next few months.