film reel image

film reel image

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Other Woman 2014 * * 1/2 Stars

The Other WomanDirector: Nick Cassavetes
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton, Taylor Kinney

Towards the end of the 2014 release The Other Woman, the antagonist (translation: Mark the infidelity king played by Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) runs into 2 glass walls (in a fit of rage) and gets punched by Don Johnson. His nose is supposed to be all bloodied up but it looks a lot like chocolate sauce (huh?). Now did the filmmakers run over budget and were unable to get red dye no. whatever corn syrup or am I just color blind? Anyway, if you like the sight of brown fluid running down a person's face and the image of a huge dog taking a poop on a plastered living room floor, well this is the movie for you.

Written by newcomer Melissa Stack, containing the tired old adage of toilet humor (can't we just give this gag a rest), and featuring a creepy dad cameo by Don "Sonny Crockett" Johnson, The Other Woman represents a classic example of a mixed review for me. The film opens with Manhattan power lawyer and independent, dating machine Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz). Right from the get go, she starts a relationship with a rich businessman named Mark King (Coster-Waldau). Little does she know that King has a wife back in Connecticut. And along with dating Whitten on the side, King has another mistress in a young model type named Amber (played by Kate "I think it's just sweat" Upton). When these three women find out that they are being duped by the same guy (who also maybe stealing from them), they devise a plan to make him feel pain and remorse for what he's been doing. As expected, I checked the amount of length for "Other" and it came out to be about an hour and 50 minutes. Sadly though, this thing became one long running joke that seemed to feel more like three arduous hours.

Now in order for The Other Woman to function as a movie, it has to allow Diaz, Upton, and Mann's characters to be friends. Otherwise, the film would not have a plot device to hang its hat on. You could just let things pan out with Mann getting revenge herself. But there would be no female camaraderie, and hence, no real movie. Here's the thing though: in real life I can't say that these women would ever actually become bosom buddies. I mean, would Mann's Kate King really try to track down and befriend the woman who wrecked her marriage? Seriously? And what's up with the Cameron Diaz character being mean and closed off when initially meeting Kate. Honestly, what the heck did Kate ever do tick Carly (Diaz) off? Oh and I almost forgot, the Diaz character is a successful attorney but you never see her do a lick of work, or actually say something complex about the law, or even talk like a lawyer. Diaz is pulling in about $18 million per movie these days. I hope she talks with her agent next time about fleshing out her character a little more. Just a thought.

Anyway, there is a man behind the camera and it's Nick Cassavetes directing in the classic Nick Cassavetes style. I've seen his work in Alpha Dog and John Q and I happen to like both of them. He films scenes with never ending, improvisational, fleeting, and grating dialogue. Some of it works, some of it doesn't. He always has a big name cast and rarely uses his stars for more than one flick (with the exception of strong character actor David Thornton). I think he hits hard with drama (in a good way) but does he have the chops to succeed with physical PG-13 comedy (as with the film I'm reviewing)? That remains to be seen. Most of the material in The Other Woman is supposed to be rip-roaring and funny. However, it comes off more as strained than anything else.

In terms of the acting, I'd have to say that it wasn't spectacular. But if you look really closely, everyone involved is almost perfect for their roles. A lot of it had to do with looks I think. Kate Upton is not much of an actress (yet) but seems like a perfect fit for the younger object of affection for Mark's midlife crisis ordeal. Leslie Mann is ideal playing the suffering housewife but there is only so much of her that I can take. She improvises to the point where it becomes almost trivial. Her acting style worked in Knocked Up and This Is 40. Here it doesn't even feel like she even read the script, and basically she let's it rip to the point where it's just too much to handle. Then there is Taylor Kinney playing Mann's character's sister. He doesn't do much with an underdeveloped role. But here's the thing: I think he's gonna be a huge movie star one day, just a hunch. Finally as mentioned earlier, we have Coster-Waldau playing the slimy, cheating husband and it's a brilliant piece of casting. Again, it's not Oscar caliber stuff but it's totally head shot mastery as far as I'm concerned.

All in all, I'd say that The Other Woman kinda ends in two parts. The first part involves the wrapping up of a revenge tale brought on by three completely different, yet formed by sisterhood, ladies. The second part during the closing credits, shows a cliched device in which we see a subtitled foretelling of what these ladies went on to do in their lives I guess maybe 2-3 years later (this whole labored bit started with 1973's American Graffiti, I'm serious). Their outcomes and futures seem pat and not realistic. But again, I'll leave you with another cliched device in Hollywood, the saying "it's only a movie".

To conclude, as a force of habit I looked at a review in which a critic said that women will enjoy this film and get the humor. I kinda agree with that. Men on the other hand, be forewarned. This is not completely a so-called "chick flick" but there were a couple of moments when I thought I was entering "chick flick" purgatory (that's not good). Bottom line: whether you're a man or a woman, see The Other Woman at your own risk. If you realized you've made a mistake, well there's always something playing in the "other" theater next door.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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