No surprises in the lazy plot of The Other Woman

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Hell hath no fury like Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton, who bond as jilted lovers in The Other Woman.
Publicity photo Hell hath no fury like Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton, who bond as jilted lovers in The Other Woman. Publicity photo

The Other Woman has approximately 1 million things working against it. First, we’re expected to believe Kate (Leslie Mann) is some sort of undesirable fuddy-duddy. Mann has played this role before, mostly in her husband Judd Apatow’s movies, but at least here she has a chance to use her goofy muscles instead of just reacting to Paul Rudd acting like a bonehead.

Secondly, there’s Cameron Diaz as Carly, an ice queen high-powered attorney. Diaz has certainly played her share of ice queens (In Her Shoes, Bad Teacher, The Counselor), and it’s not much of a stretch for her, but at least she does it well.

Thirdly, there’s Kate Upton as Amber, a beautiful innocent. She has so few lines of dialogue it’s hard to tell whether she’s a decent actor, but she beams at the right moments, makes frittatas, and has a few good lines—or what passes for good lines in a screenplay as lazy as The Other Woman’s.

Finally, the story operates under the pretense that a woman needs a man to make her happy, or to complete her in some way. That’s not an original idea (or a particularly good one). In 2014 you’d think we’d move beyond such limited gender bias.

But you can’t have everything, especially in a big budget Hollywood comedy. And somehow, miraculously, The Other Woman isn’t going to be the worst movie of the year. Some of it is actually quite funny.

In the movie’s first scene, we see Carly (Diaz) making out with hot guy Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who plays Jaime Lannister on “Game of Thrones”). Before long they’re spending many waking and sleeping moments together, and soon they’ve made plans for him to meet her father (Don Johnson, who plays the old lothario with ease).

What Carly doesn’t know—and what we all know because the title of this film is The Other Woman—is that Mark is married to Kate (Mann). After Mark cancels the father meeting to spend time with his wife, Carly is pissed off, but her assistant, Lydia (Nicki Minaj, who should be in every movie from now on) convinces her to pop in on Mark unannounced. When Carly arrives at Mark’s house, Kate answers the door. Carly is mortified, even falling into the bushes (ho ho!), and Kate is confused.

That sets the stage for what becomes a fairly typical revenge comedy. Carly and Kate conspire to make Mark pay for his infidelities, eventually roping in third other woman Amber, who’s eager to go along with them. They put a laxative in his drinks (eww—and yawn), find out he’s doing a bunch of illegal business (no surprise given this jerk’s track record and his propensity to have Kate sign legal documents without letting her read them), and give him estrogen (prompting a very weird racist joke in the middle of the movie).

Somehow it’s not a total wash. There’s something rather delightful in watching these women act like total idiots. And Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifinakis, and Ed Helms did that for three Hangover movies, so why not give Diaz, Mann, and Upton a shot?

I’d come down harder on The Other Woman if it were meant to be taken seriously, but the whole thing is so absurd, it’s impossible to take seriously. And who couldn’t use some silliness?

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