Making movies is a monumentally difficult task. There are a lot of moving parts and sometimes competing interests, and if just one variable is out of sync, then it can throw the timing off everything else. It’s hard to know what went wrong first in The Other Woman, whether it was the direction, actors taking too many liberties or a script that needed one more rewrite, but something definitely set this film off course, squandering what is otherwise a pretty good concept.
Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) is a powerful attorney who is still single even though she’s fast approaching the tail end of her prime. She may have finally found a guy to settle down with, however, when she meets Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who seems to be every bit of Mr. Right. Unfortunately, he’s already married to another woman, Kate (Leslie Mann). When Kate discovers Mark’s affair, she confronts Carly, and they ironically develop a friendship. During this time, the two women discover that Mark actually has a third woman in his life (Kate Upton). Driven to make Mark pay for his brazenly wanton ways, the three women join forces to exact their revenge.
The Other Woman is pure escapism for women. How often do women find definitive proof that their man is cheating? Then, not only meet the other woman, but actually befriend her instead of clawing her eyes out? Probably never, but the idea is nice. Furthermore, Mark is so despicable – not just in his love life, but in his professional life as well – that watching the takedown of this person who has no redeeming qualities is schadenfraudelicious! In fact, you don’t need to be a woman to appreciate what this film is trying to accomplish. It’s how the film goes about achieving that goal that will give any viewer pause for concern.
For starters, The Other Woman is supposed to be a comedy, but it rarely does anything to elicit laughs. One of the bits involves a very large dog defecating on the floor of someone’s apartment for no good reason except to gross out audiences. Unfortunately, most of the comedic heavy lifting is performed by Leslie Mann. She carves a quirky, nervous, timid character out of her role, and she’s genuinely fun to watch in the early scenes, but the over reliance on her to keep the humor up gets old quickly. That’s not to say there aren’t any laughs to be had, they’re just few and far between.
The pacing of the film slows to a crawl halfway through the movie as well. For some reason, it takes 40 minutes to establish a subplot that has the women thwarting Mark’s crooked business endeavors before the women actually act on it to complete their revenge. During this portion of the film, time is filled with unnecessary characters like Carly’s father (Don Johnson) and her assistant (Nicki Minaj), who has no business being in a high-priced law firm as an employee, or in this film in a speaking role. She’s very out of place and doesn’t add anything to the story.
Finally, the film could have done more in terms of the revenge aspect. It simply doesn’t go far enough in breaking Mark down. For example, the girls tamper with his shampoo and his morning shake with the goal of making his hair fall out while upping the estrogen in his body. While the film does show some of these effects, it’s just one scene. By the climax of the film Mark looks fine, instead of a balding mess with breasts.
The one saving grace to the film is the girl power aspect and the camaraderie that the women exhibit throughout the film. There’s a good message here that women don’t always have to compete with each other, and can unite effectively against a common enemy. Audiences just have to work a little harder and dig a little deeper to find the good stuff.