Hear them roar
‘The Other Woman’ offers three actresses a chance to strut their stuff in a comedy about revenge
By Carl Kozlowski 04/23/2014
Women can do just about anything in movies these days. Just think of Scarlett Johansson kicking as much ass as the male superheroes in the Marvel Comics movies, or Meryl Streep going toe-to-toe with every great actor on the planet, often topping their performances. But until the success of “Bridesmaids” a couple years back, women were never really allowed to run as wild as men in comedies.
With its massive box-office grosses and two Oscar nominations, “Bridesmaids” flipped the script for women and has given rise to hits like “Identity Thief” and “The Heat,” films in which women were able to bring the funny in full force.
“The Other Woman” is trying to follow their lead and to do so without Melissa McCarthy, who starred in all three of the abovementioned films. And thanks to ace comic turns from its lead duo of Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann, the uneven yet sometimes hilarious film succeeds more often than it fails.
“Woman” stars Diaz as Carly, a tough-as-nails New York lawyer with a strict set of rules when it comes to men and relationships. When she meets a rich and hopelessly handsome guy named Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), she breaks all her rules and falls for him, but then discovers he’s married. She learns this after attempting to surprise him with a booty call at his Connecticut home and instead finds his wife Kate (Leslie Mann) answering the door.
While Carly wants to just leave in shame and get on with her lonely life, Kate won’t let her off the hook. She shows up at Carly’s law firm and has a very funny panic attack that convinces Carly to leave work and speak with her in-depth. Bonding over way too many drinks and the fact that they’ve been two-timed by the same guy, they start forming a friendship that at first merely helps them forgive and forget.
But then they find out about Amber (Kate Upton), yet another mistress of Mark’s who doesn’t realize she’s also being cheated on by the sleazeball. They convince Amber to join them in exacting revenge on Mark, leading to a string of humorous episodes that range from gross-out moments — slipping him laxatives until he destroys his pants in a restaurant bathroom — to clever ones that involve taking him down as a dirty businessman by exposing his empire as a fraud.
“Woman” is way better than its terrible TV ads would indicate, because it suffers from the same problem as many other raunchy comedies: The best moments can’t be shown on network television. As comedians, the three actresses are spot-on throughout, with Mann particularly impressive with both her physical comedy and elastic facial expressions.
Coster-Waldau must be an incredibly good sport, because his character Mark endures an unbelievable string of humiliations from our heroines. Yet the movie does have its weak moments, with a couple too many sappy scenes of the women moping and hugging as soft-pop songs play in the background, and a couple of the physical-comedy scenes going a little too far to work without inducing audience eye rolls.
Overall, however, “The Other Woman” provides a refreshing alternative to the current crop of films that includes three Christian-themed movies and Captain America dominating the marketplace. With no other big comedies coming until close to Memorial Day, at least this movie offers a chance to have a few laughs.