MRR Review: "The Other Woman"

Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Rating: PG-13
Length: 109 minutes
Release Date: April 25, 2014
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Genre: Comedy / Romance

Director Nick Cassavetes, who is best known for "The Notebook" and "My Sister's Keeper," tries his hand at lighter, more comedic fare in "The Other Woman." He puts together a strong cast and receives a very committed performance from each of the players. Although the script, which is the first produced by writer Melissa Stack, often relies heavily on readily accessible types, such as the sleazy but smooth adulterous husband, the hysterical wife and the bombshell, air-head mistress, there are enough great bits of dialogue and inventive complications to give the cast enough to keep the farcical comedy rolling along.

Cameron Diaz stars as Carly Whitten, an accomplished lawyer whose success with men does not match her professional achievements, and she has almost run out of options. She surprises herself when she begins to consider her current relationship with Mark King, played with an oozy abandon by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, as a possibility for something more permanent. When she decides to surprise him at his Connecticut home after he lamely excuses himself from a date, audiences are ready for the fun to begin. The fact that Carly ever considered this honey-tongued player in his Aston Martin a possibility for a faithful partner tells audiences a lot about her character judgment.

Carly is naturally hesitant when Kate, played by Leslie Mann, Mark's wife, shows up one day at her door for a sit-down. The meeting soon turns into drunken bonding, creating the type of cheesy scene Carly tells Kate that she wants to avoid when she opens the door. In fact, this is only the beginning of the situation's complications. Mark is no run-of-the-mill Lothario, and Kate and Carly soon find out that there is yet another woman involved. When Carly sees the third woman on the beach through a pair of binoculars, she becomes enraged. She attempts to physically assault the other mistress but is tackled by Kate before she reaches her target. Amber, played by Kate Upton in an adorable bimbo turn, is then brought into their fold.

After this, there is only one way to go, and the villain must get his due. Even Amber is smart enough to understand it, but her suggestions for vengeance are more old-fashioned. It is not long until Carly is leading a more creative vengeance plan that intends to put an end not only to Mark's cheating but also to his professional life. While some of the machinations of this vengeance plot are some of the more predictable moments of the movie, Cassavetes keeps the pacing of the scenes consistent.

As with the discovery of Amber, Carly takes the vengeance more seriously than Kate. While the wife is seemingly satisfied with lacing her husband's health drinks with estrogen so that he begins to wonder about the breasts he develops, Carly wants to go after him for embezzlement. The others go along, but it is Carly's vengeance more than it is theirs.

Mann's performance as the wronged wife is perhaps one of the most effective in the film, given that the character must have seemed a stereotypically unhinged and hysterical wife on paper. Much of the physical and verbal comedy of this film depends on just how hysterical Kate becomes. Much of her motivation to reach out to Carly and later warmly welcome Amber is in how wronged she feels. However, Mann manages to save the role from caricature while keeping it farcical and hyperbolic enough to bring out the inherent comedy of the role. Diaz's Carly plays more of a straight woman to the wronged wife. She is amazed not so much that Kate befriends the mistresses of her husband but that she has done so with such eagerness.

There are moments in "The Other Woman" when the three women are together and it would be possible for an accomplished therapist to join them and advise them to forget the obvious cad that they are all so obsessed with, noting that any vengeance they take on him would just do as much damage to them as it would to him. Thankfully, such a therapist does not appear, and the ladies continue with their gleeful and almost child-like plans for vengeance, which, contrary to the professional therapist's theoretical advice, seems to be have a curative effect on them. One seems less hysterical, another grows less angry and one of the three ladies even seems to become smarter as the film goes on. This apparent growth rounds out the comedic sentiment of this amusing affair.