‘Other Woman’ ditches laughs for clichéd tropes

by Varun Bhuchar | 5/11/14 3:54pm

Women have a representation problem in film. There simply aren’t enough women in movies, and when they are, the characters seem to be hideous caricatures of what two middle-aged white guys think women act like. As someone who loves movies, this saddens me. As much as I love watching men struggle through conflict in movies, I like seeing films with women front and center because it’s a nice change of pace. Women deserve better representation in the media, and as of late, there have been several television shows and movies working to promote that trend.

“The Other Woman” (2014) is not one of them.

Written and directed by the patriarchy — in this case, Melissa Stack and Nick Cassavetes — “The Other Woman” is the story of Carly (Cameron Diaz), a Columbia Law School-educated lawyer who doesn’t need a man. That is, until she meets and falls in love with Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a handsome investor.

Alas, this perfect match was not meant to be, for Carly finds out that her knight in shining armor is actually a squire in tin foil: not only is Mark married to Kate (Leslie Mann), he also has another mistress, Amber (Kate Upton). Tired of their scheming lover, the women team up to take him down.

For a comedy, “The Other Woman” is not very funny. It’s the cinematic equivalent of telling your friends about your hilarious night out, realizing halfway through that they don’t find it funny and sheepishly ending your tale by saying, “You had to be there.” I laughed once, and it was at a poop joke.

None of the characters in the movie are likeable, either. Carly goes along with the crazy shenanigans for the sake of the plot, poor Upton is there solely as top-shelf eye candy and Mann’s character is so annoying and over-the-top that you almost sympathize with Mark — and that should not happen in a movie about a man being punished for cheating on his wife. To ensure that that doesn’t happen, Mark is made the most unlikable person on the planet. Not only is he a cheater, he’s an embezzler, too! I’m sure the director’s cut includes a sequence where he kicks puppies for fun.

The supporting characters are baffling. Nicki Minaj is cast as an unholy combination of a Greek chorus with the voice of Fran Drescher, pointlessly commenting on things that have already happened. Don Johnson appears as Carly’s father, a serial womanizer who loves his daughter and possibly informed her views on men. It’s like looking at Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother” 30 years in the future. That would have been a plot twist we could all get behind, but it would have required some actual out-of-the box thinking.

The film is cliché all the way to the end when it gets strangely violent, but you know you have a problem when your film can’t even make slapstick funny.

But what makes “The Other Woman” so infuriating is the fact that it is ludicrously patronizing and has no idea what it wants to say or be. Nowadays, we bombard children with messages that they don’t have to conform to gender stereotypes, but drivel like “The Other Woman” comes along and tells little girls that you need a man, and not just any man, but a prince who will treat you like gold and sweep you off your feet. Now, that’s not a bad thing to happen, but in spite of all the film’s plot points, you would think there would be some lesson, some great moral, at the end. Sadly, it never comes.

Instead, we get a film that is probably a money-laundering scheme for some sort of criminal organization. At least, that’s what I’ll tell myself when I try to rationalize its existence.

 

Rating: 4.1/10

“The Other Woman” is currently playing at the Nugget.