By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Other Woman is about the other other woman. Or is it the other other other woman?
Wow, this guy gets around.
It’s a raucous revenge romp about a trio of women -– y’know, hell hath no fury like three women scorned — who bond and plan to get back at the guy who’s married to one of them and cheats on all of them.
Cameron Diaz stars as Carly, a New York lawyer who first discovers that her businessman boyfriend, Mark, the womanizer played by Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is married when she shows up at his Connecticut door looking for him.
Mark’s hysterical wife, Kate, played by Leslie Mann, returns the favor by showing up at Carly’s office and then her apartment to seek her advice.
As if this isn’t enough for Carly, she then finds out that she is not Mark’s primary lover. Apparently, he’s got a more urgent -– and younger -– second mistress, Amber, played by super-model Kate Upton.
So Carly and Kate approach Amber, and soon the three of them are commiserating. And what do they discover? You guessed it: that there’s yet a fourth woman in Mark’s life.
Yep, he’s three-timing them all. The Other Woman has become The Other Women.
Can this guy multitask or what?
The Other Woman is in the broad, dark-comedy vein of Horrible Bosses. (“Horrible Hubby,” perhaps?)
But it also serves as a ferocious feminist fantasy devoted to the serial seducer’s comeuppance that’s sporadically funny –- especially when Leslie Mann is on screen -– but not nearly as funny or pointed or mature as it thinks it is.
As an odd-couple screen team, Diaz and Mann are fun to watch, committing gamely to the madcap style, willing to look ridiculous, open to and comfortable with physical comedy, and very funny together with straight woman Diaz’s sophisticated scheming bouncing off ditzy Mann’s babe-in-the-woods innocence.
And Upton, severely limited as an actress, is properly likable eye candy, which is really all that’s called for.
The script, by debuting screenwriter Melissa Stack, spins out of control in the late going instead of tidying up believably, while it delivers an escapist package of unexpected female friendship.
The résumé of director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, John Q, She’s So Lovely, Alpha Dog, My Sister’s Keeper) doesn’t exactly suggest the presence of any kind of comedy chops. And, sure enough, whatever the opposite of a light touch is, he’s got it, trying to be push-the-envelope outrageous with over-the-top slapstick bits but as often as not embracing the juvenile when the witty is out of reach.
It isn’t that there are so many easy, lazy gross-out jokes, although there are indeed too many. It’s that there are two or three bits or gags that go clunk for every one that gets a laugh or a smile, as if someone cribbed from the Bridesmaids template without really understanding what made that influential movie funny.
Another problem is that the pace slows down down the stretch, when it really should be speeding up. Not that the film is ever boring. But neither is it ever truly engaging.
So we’ll cheat on 2 stars out of 4 for this screwball infidelity comedy that’s erratic but fitfully entertaining in spite of itself, mostly because of gifted comic actress Leslie Mann. The spark to The Other Woman comes from what might be called “Mann overboard.”