Post-Bridesmaids, Hollywood is finally picking up on the fact that audiences want to see more female-led comedies. And since that landmark, there have been a few enjoyable flicks that have followed in its footsteps (the caustic Bachelorette and over-the-top buddy cop comedy The Heat come first to mind). Unfortunately, there have also been a few entries in the genre which one could fairly call regressive, whose female characters only relate to one another, or life as a whole, through men. The Other Woman, despite initial appearances, falls firmly into the latter category – in addition to being cheaply written, disappointingly stale and (worst of all) very guilty of squandering its two female leads.
That the film’s screenplay comes from a female writer – Melissa Stack, whose work here will undoubtedly secure her a long career in Hollywood – just heightens my confusion at The Other Woman‘s treatment of its lead characters. The set-up seems ripe for an inspirational, girl-power flick: Carly (Cameron Diaz) is a high-powered lawyer, though we never see her do any work, who gets swept off her feet by the dashing Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Eventually, reality rears its ugly head when Carly figures out that Mark is already married. Instead of moving on, Carly becomes embroiled with his hysterical wife Kate (Leslie Mann), and the two plot to take revenge on the guy – enlisting the help of mistress #2, buxom Amber (Kate Upton), along the way.
A funny thing happened on the way to the multiplex for The Other Woman – any parts of the movie that attempted to humanize its three lead female characters (if they ever existed to begin with) were entirely excised. Carly, Kate and Amber would perhaps be fun protagonists if they displayed a trace of humanity – but instead, the only thing that defines any of them is their anger at Mark. As the characters themselves conclude, they are “the wife, the lawyer and the boobs,” a perfect triumvirate of women scorned. It’s a throwaway line, sure, but The Other Woman never develops the characters past it. Viewers are left to conclude that the only thing driving these women forward in life is stone-cold revenge, not a desire to empower themselves or even really support one another. How are you supposed to feel for people who never act like human beings?
That superficiality is clear to see throughout the rest of the film. The biggest laugh comes when Carly gets hit in the face with Kate’s Great Dane’s sizable package (ahem). Nick Cassavetes’ direction lends the film a glossy appearance that compounds its impersonal, manufactured premise. Additionally, any moments of emotional nuance are blasted to smithereens by chintzy, overbearing pop songs. And Upton’s inclusion, mostly for shots of her ample cleavage in a tiny bikini, isn’t enough for the filmmakers – Nicki Minaj is inexplicably granted a dire supporting role. This is end times, people.
Most depressingly, the wit that The Other Woman‘s first third displays in some small measure is quickly overrun by crude humor that scrapes almost through the bottom of the barrel. When you have actors like Diaz and Mann, who are often extremely funny, it simply doesn’t do to waste them on thin, tinned punchlines. But wasted they are, with characters and a story so conventional and contrived that any viewer of the trailer could articulate exactly how it progresses, from the first scene to the last.
Credit Mann, at least, for bringing a fierce, go-for-broke energy to her role – the actress has lots of fun with Kate’s ditzy demeanor, from her insistence that she needs “brain camp” to her prolonged mental breakdown in response to Mark’s infidelity. Diaz, on the other hand, only gets a few enjoyably dry one-liners, and the remainder of her performance is all fake half-smiles and faux-insightful snarks (though her chemistry with Mann is occasionally diverting). Upton has a lesser role, but the model does what she’s there for. And as the cad these women are after, Coster-Waldau is all slick, wolfish charisma – at least until the awful final act turns him into a petulant (not to mention painfully unamusing) child.
It’s sad to see The Other Woman arrive as such an ugly and lame pile of clichés. All of the participants deserve much better, and so do viewers. That a shiny Hollywood comedy top-lined by three reputable women still fails the Bechdel Test – and does so on an embarrassing, almost stunning level – is shameful. Add in that it isn’t even funny, and The Other Woman has handily secured a spot high on the list of this year’s worst.
Though the film’s quality is regrettably low, at least the caliber of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Blu-Ray transfer is high. That Cassavetes shot The Other Woman on actual film lends the image a deeply satisfying depth and vibrancy. The colors, as seen above, are also exceptionally striking, and the level of detail on display is stellar throughout, from the fibers of characters’ clothes to the sheen on Coster-Waldau’s glossy hair. No issues to report – this is a top-of-the-line transfer, as we’ve come to expect from Fox.
The same goes for The Other Woman Blu-Ray’s 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, which sufficiently balances dialogue, background sound effects and the film’s often forceful soundtrack. Ensuring that the dialogue is crisp and clear throughout was the priority with the track, and Fox did a great job with that, but there are never any weak spots in the movie’s effects or accompanying music.
The special features, unfortunately, are basic to below average. We’ve got:
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes (9:48)
- Gag Reel (3:32)
- Giggle Fit (5:18)
- Gallery (1:03)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:20)
The deleted scenes provide a couple of extra laughs without adding anything to the movie. Nicki Minaj gets more of a presence (not a good thing, I assure you). As always, the gag reel is occasionally funny and at least proves that Diaz, Mann and Upton had plenty of fun making The Other Woman. “Giggle Fit” is a gag reel segment that lasts for an amusing long time, showing Diaz and Mann doing their damnedest to make it through a scene without collapsing into laughter. The other extras are just standard fluff, not worth your time in the slightest.
Although the Blu-Ray itself is flawless in terms of video and audio, the miserable experience that is The Other Woman is not something I would wish on anyone. Just rent any number of girl-powered comedies in its stead, from Bridesmaids to Mean Girls to the underseen In A World… There’s absolutely nothing in this lazy, hackneyed, faux-feminist misfire of a comedy that’s worth your time or money.
Watching The Other Woman will leave you feeling cheated - this is one ugly, phony, faux-feminist mess, made all the more painful in that it manages to waste every single star in its cast.