The Other Woman

Directed by: Nick Cassavetes

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Don Johnson, Nicki Minaj, and Taylor Kinney

I desperately wanted to endorse The Other Woman.  Not only because I’m a huge fan of Leslie Mann’s work, but I also listened to Mann and Cameron Diaz plugging the new film on EW Radio. During the interview, they referenced the 1980’s classic film 9 to 5, and seemed to hint that The Other Woman delivered some of the same female empowerment/sisterhood themes.  Unfortunately, that comparison does not ring true.

In the film, Carly Whitten (Diaz) is a powerhouse lawyer in New York City.  Carly recently started dating Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and they have a whirlwind romance.  Carly falls so hard for Mark that she decides to introduce him to her playboy father Frank (Don Johnson).  At the last minute, Mark cancels his evening with Carly, giving her the excuse that the pipes in his house burst and he needs to rush home.  Initially, Carly is peeved, but then she puts on her best sexy plumber outfit, hires a car and rides out to Connecticut to visit Mark.  Much to Carly’s surprise, Kate (Mann), Mark’s wife, answers the door.  Carly embarrassingly stumbles away after making some lame excuse.

The next day, Kate shows up at Carly’s law firm after finding Carly’s number in Mark’s phone.  Kate has a breakdown in the midst of the office after she discovers that Carly is her husband’s mistress.  Kate is not only traumatized and betrayed, but she feels completely lost.  She quit her job to support Mark in his career; she does not have any money of her own; all of her friends are Mark’s friends; and she cannot think for herself.  That is not an exaggeration.  Kate actually remarks that she needs to go to “brain camp” because she just cannot think.   Suffice it to say, she loses it.

Kate feels that the only person that she can talk to about Mark’s betrayal is Mark’s mistress.  Initially, Carly is horrified by the prospect of becoming friends with her former lover’s wife.  However, Kate is persistent, and soon the two become bffs as they try to take down Mark.  Much to their surprise, Mark is sleeping with hordes of women and is also engaged in shady financial schemes.  As Carly and Kate work to destroy Mark, they ultimately befriend yet another mistress, Amber (Kate Upton), and the three women form an odd bond over their contempt for the philandering Mark. 

The Other Woman has some positive aspects. As an initial matter, Cameron Diaz’s wardrobe is phenomenal. Whether she is in a power dress or casual wear, Diaz is dressed flawlessly throughout the film.  (Sidebar: I am a lawyer, and I think I may be dressing too casual at work after seeing this movie).  In addition to her fashion game, Diaz’s character is probably the most likable character in the film.  She is tough, smart, compassionate and funny.  When Diaz's character declared that she is John McEnroe and chased down a young voluptuous Upton in a jealous rage, I was in stitches.   There were some genuinely funny moments in the film, and a decent chemistry between Diaz and Mann. Further, from a theme perspective, the fact that these women are bonding is positive.  The wife’s anger is rightfully directed at her cheating husband rather than the two women who were also lied to by the dastardly, yet super-hot, Coster-Waldeau.

With that being said, even though this is a comedy, I had some issues with the portrayals of women in The Other Woman.  As an initial matter, Mann’s character is supremely annoying.  She is needy, pathetic, desperate, and ditzy.  At first I was repulsed that the filmmakers made the wife such an unattractive character.  However, they had to make her a loser in an effort to make the plot plausible.  In what world would a wife become best friends with a woman who just confessed to sleeping with her husband 50 times?  It is completely understandable that Mann’s character would confront the mistress and/or ask questions, but to actually stalk her and pester her into becoming friends?  And if that was not enough, Mann becomes obsessed with her husband’s second mistress, a bikini clad Kate Upton. This plot goes from unbelievable to patently ridiculous.

Oddly enough, the roles played by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in the 1980 film 9 to 5 were smart, funny characters.  Over thirty years later, The Other Woman actually takes a step back with stereotypical female leads.  I would expect more from the director who brought us The Notebook.   The Other Woman earns a 0.09% rating.  I would not rush out to theaters to see this one.  But if it comes on cable, you may enjoy it with a Cosmo.