The Other Woman 

Nick Cassavetes' The Other Woman was the top-grossing film in America last weekend! Isn't that awesome? Aren't you glad you saw it? Me, too!

Well, not really. I mean, sort of. Let me explain: In general, I'm a movie optimist. Any movie could be great, even if it's only for a scene or two. Plus, it's hard to make a movie without any redeeming facets; even the stinkers have their moments.

But I did not watch The Other Woman with pure intentions. I went to it because I wanted to see something awful — and the trailers I'd seen looked as bad as anything released so far this year. If watching Hollywood films is sometimes little more than watching beautiful people doing interesting things, then I wanted to see beautiful people doing, well, something else. I wanted to see these rich, attractive genetic marvels humiliate themselves for money and feel good about myself because I wasn't them. I wanted to scoff and sneer at this movie through fistfuls of Reese's Pieces.

click to enlarge The leading ladies of The Other Woman
  • The leading ladies of The Other Woman

I was not disappointed.

Here's the plot in 45 words or so: After big-city lawyer Carly (Cameron Diaz) accidentally meets desperate housewife Kate (Leslie Mann), the wife of the man Carly's been seeing (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), they team up with his other mistress, Amber (Kate Upton), to exact their revenge on him. Girl power!

Only it isn't girl power at all. This is a far cry from recent, superb female-driven comedies like Bridesmaids or Pitch Perfect (aka, the second-best American film of 2012). The Other Woman is a comedy that isn't funny, a drama that can't be taken seriously, and a female empowerment fairy tale starring an airhead, an old maid, and a pair of tits that won't quit. It's an insult to every comedienne everywhere.

It's also really poorly put together; no recent box-office smash has had more obvious continuity errors or more visible post-production scars. Poorly post-synchronized dialogue, brutally conventional music choices — including the Mission: Impossible theme, which plays during a "stakeout" — and magical leaps in time and space govern the shenanigans. At one point, Mann's character is teleported from New York City (or Connecticut, or wherever) to Los Angeles; how else can you explain the prominent Bäco Mercat storefront behind her while she talks on the phone?

The actresses are left to flounder amid the sludge. Diaz is developing an engaging brittleness as she ages, but Mann repeatedly sacrifices her intelligence to whine and flail about in high heels. Then again, at least Mann shows some intelligence. Not so for Upton, who moves through the movie in slow-motion unencumbered by thought or charisma.

There are traces, however fleeting, of a real world visible in this wreck. Among them are two scenes co-starring a bored chauffeur who hates his employers and Mann's drunken declaration that a pair of Diaz's panties are "like a logic puzzle." Whether the callipygian magnificence of Nicki Minaj (who's great, by the way) is real, however, is a matter best left to special effects technicians and plastic surgeons.

The Other Woman

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The Other Woman
Rated R · 119 min. · 2011
Director: Don Roos
Writer: Don Roos
Cast: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow, Lauren Ambrose, Anthony Rapp, Charlie Tahan, Scott Cohen, Daisy Tahan, Elizabeth Marvel, Debra Monk and Tom Stratford

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