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Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:01 am

Pace and plotting nearly undo The Other Woman

Kate Upton, Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann in The Other Woman.
Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox

 

I understand the appeal of films like The Other Woman. They are to women what action flicks are to men – overwrought fantasies meant to provide a cathartic release for the audience. Then again they might exist as a form of payback for boyfriends and husbands who’ve made their partners sit through Die Hard 5 and their ilk. That’s not to say that men won’t enjoy this sadistically fluffy concoction. It does have its moments and the game cast helps it over some rough patches. However, director Nick Cassavetes takes a bit too long to wrap things up, which results in the three appealing leads overstaying their welcome.

From the title of the film, one would think that it refers to a single woman. Actually, it alludes to the various women shady businessman Mark King (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is sleeping with, his wife Kate (Leslie Mann, at her flightiest) included. On the surface, he’s a dream come true – handsome, romantic, successful, smart, thoughtful – which is why Manhattan attorney Carly Whitten (Cameron Diaz) falls under his sway. They have a solid two-month run before she meets Kate. Bonding over takeout chicken, expensive vodka and giving each other a makeover, the two decide to follow Mark to find out where he is when he isn’t with them. Sure enough, they come across his third paramour, the lovely but daft Amber (Kate Upton) and before you know it, these three women scorned set out to make this man’s life a living hell.

The film takes a while to find its footing. Far too many scenes take place with Kate and Carly before they hatch their nefarious plan. While a certain amount of “getting-to-know-you” moments are required, they end up delaying the acts of revenge the audience is waiting and eager for. That said, once Mark starts to get his comeuppance, the movie hits its stride. He unwittingly takes massive doses of estrogen, as well as laxatives, uses shampoo that’s actually hair remover and employs a toothbrush that’s been defiled in numerous ways. Coster-Waldau is a good sport throughout and his reactions to the various injustices being done to his body are quite effective and funny.

The core trio hold themselves in good stead, though Diaz and Mann tote most of the water with Upton introduced late in the film. Diaz provides a solid center to the group, playing straight woman to the other two, reacting to their shenanigans with the proper amount of exasperation and pity. Mann is all over the map here, at times sympathetic, at others making us understand why her husband would stray. Her Kate is a tangential, scattered loon who vacillates from being cute to irritating at the drop of a hat. Thankfully, Mann is a capable performer and allows us to see the woman beneath this façade, thus avoiding the audience hoping she’ll be fed to the sharks. As for Upton, the bar is set pretty low where her acting abilities are concerned and she doesn’t disappoint. She’s been cast for one reason only and she amply fulfills what’s required of her.

A sweet love story between Carly and Kate’s brother Phil (Taylor Kinney) is required to give the character a happy ending but their scenes together only slow down the action as does a prolonged section in the Bahamas where the final piece of the women’s revenge falls into place. Once reached, the climax is satisfying, though it goes a bit too far. In the end, The Other Woman is a pleasant enough diversion that will please those who’ve longed to pay back anyone who’s wronged them while serving as a not so gentle reminder to those that might cheat that public embarrassment and financial ruin are in the offing for those who would stray.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org

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