The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Other Woman

Every once in a while, a movie so miserable, unpleasant, and mean-spirited comes along that I can't help wondering why anyone would want to waste the time it took to make it. The Other Woman is just such a film. Here's a movie that hates men, but more than that, it hates women, despite cloaking itself in a phony female-empowerment message. Star Cameron Diaz has made some terrific comedies. She's made some clunkers, too. Now she's finally found one so wretched that it makes What Happens in Vegas look like another There's Something About Mary.

Diaz plays Carly Whitten, a New York lawyer who has just started a hot-and-heavy romance with businessman Mark King (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). After they have a minor squabble, she shows up at his house, ready to apologize and offer sex, only to discover that Mark has a wife, Kate (Leslie Mann). Initial awkwardness gives way to some bonding, as both women share a resentment against the dirtbag who lied to them. Then they discover that he has yet another mistress, Amber (Kate Upton). She's not any happier about being played than Carly and Kate are. Together, the three of them vow to make Mark pay for his deeds.

Infidelity is a hurtful, cruel thing, and a very good movie could be made about those impacted by it. The Other Woman is not that movie. Instead, it uses the setup as an excuse to deliver a lot of lame slapstick, including frequent pratfalls and a scene in which Kate's humongous dog takes an equally humongous dump on Carly's expensive hardwood floor. As for the plot the women hatch, it goes for lowest common denominator humor, up to and including that tired, unfunny cliché in which Carly slips a laxative in Mark's drink so that he has an embarrassing bathroom accident while out in public. Even worse is a running bit about Kate putting feminine hormones in his morning smoothie, causing him to grow breasts. That's not funny, it's scary behavior. As you can no doubt tell, The Other Woman is as insightful about infidelity as Kim Kardashian would be about nuclear physics.

Director Nick Cassavetes (son of legendary indie icon John Cassavetes) never misses a chance to be as obvious as possible. When Kate and Carly trail Mark as he goes to meet Amber, the Mission: Impossible theme plays on the soundtrack. During a montage of the women doing nasty things like putting his toothbrush in the toilet, we get to hear “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” Are you rolling out of your seat with laughter yet?

The real culprit, however, is Melissa Stack's abominable screenplay, which turns the three women into complete idiots, all of whom are driven to crazy, borderline psychotic behavior because a man lied to them. That's not to empathize with the cheater, but rather to point out that a film supposedly celebrating strong women actually turns them into a bunch of weak dolts who deal with pain by getting drunk and becoming vicious. The Other Woman doesn't believe in the adage “two wrongs don't make a right.” It believes in “many, many wrongs make a right.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the appalling sequence in which Mark gets his final comeuppance. It isn't enough that the ladies ruin him; the story has him endure three incidents of painful physical injury that leave him seriously bloodied. In what universe is this supposed to be funny and not just sick?

The only real pleasures I found in The Other Woman came from the actresses. Diaz always has good energy, and Kate Upton is unexpectedly deft at playing a comically naïve character. For her part, Leslie Mann once more shows great skill at doing goofball humor. The material is terrible, but she approaches it with such gusto that it reminded me of how great she is when she has something to work with. Sadly, the stars are stuck in a vehicle that is beneath each of them.

It is difficult to imagine women enjoying this movie, so unflatteringly does it paint them. Then again, The Other Woman doesn't like anybody, including the audience. The film thinks you'll laugh at jokes you've heard before, as well as at pointless acts of cruelty executed with all the finesse of that dog defecating on the floor. What a detestable piece of crud this picture is.

( out of four)

The Other Woman is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual references and language. The running time is 1 hour and 49 minutes.

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