“The Other Woman,” a new madcap comedy from “The Notebook” director Nick Cassavetes, features a character who tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights. There have been philanderers on film before, but rarely has one cinematic cheater spread himself so thin, carrying on simultaneously with Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton.
That man, Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is cheating on his wife (Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Diaz and Upton).
“We got played by the same guy,” says Carly. “I call it a tie.”
The three women form an unlikely bond—“We are the weirdest friends ever,” says Carly—drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. “The three of us can be just as shady as he can.”
With “The Notebook” Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With “The Other Woman” the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances.
Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even the voluptuous Kate “She’s a clichéd version of every wife’s nightmare” Upton, who will never be confused with Meryl Streep, is charming and funny. Singer Nicki Minaj, who darts in and out of the film in an extended cameo, manages to get a couple of zingers in there as well.
Coster-Waldau doesn’t fare as well. He’s fine as the oily Casanova but is more “Game of Thrones” (he’s Jaime Lannister on the HBO show) when it comes to playing comedy. In other words he’s better at sword swinging than slapstick.
The film is slightly mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, or in its soundtrack. The “Mission Impossible” theme blares over a scene where Diaz and Mann spy on Coster-Waldau, and you can bet your bottom dollar “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” will play at some point.
It may not be refined but it does get the girl power stuff right, and that’s more the point of the film. This isn’t a movie about the men, they are flesh props, simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming and on that level it scores. The comedy material is often elevated and enhanced by the performer’s skill, but the film has its (broken) heart in the right place.
“The Other Woman” is a chick flick that isn’t “Bridemaids” funny, but you will laugh out loud quite a few times.
SYNOPSIS: Married man Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights by cheating on his wife (Leslie Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton). “We got played by the same guy,” says Carly.” The three women form an unlikely bond—“We are the weirdest friends ever,” says Carly—drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. “The three of us can be just as shady as he can.”
Richard: 3 ½ Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, with The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With The Other Woman his pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances. Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even Kate Upton, who will never be accused of giving Meryl Streep a run for her money, is charming and funny. It’s not Bridemaids funny, but I laughed out loud quite a few times. You?
Mark: Is it possible to like a movie but hate its sexual politics? Because that’s how I felt about it. I laughed, especially when Leslie Mann was onscreen. This movie is certainly her personal best. She’s amazingly loose and funny, especially in the first third of the film. But the revenge plot against the cheating husband left me feeling queasy. He’s set up as such a cardboard lothario that he made the Kate Upton character look deep. There’s a positive male role model in the film—Mann’s brother—but he’s so anodyne and threat less that I couldn’t take him seriously as a character. The movie is interesting as a series of Rorschach about how women must view men—either cads or eunuchs—but I had to banish these thoughts or I couldn’t enjoy the comedy.
RC: I see what you’re saying, and I suppose the film is a bit mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, but it does get the girl power stuff right, and I think that’s more the point of the film. This isn’t a movie about the men, they are simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming.
MB: Anyway, at least it’s a good-looking movie, and the women’s outfits are chic. Don Johnson is given a part that’s more than a cameo, but less than a role. I think he could have been onscreen more with a beefed-up part. But Nicki Minaj, as Diaz’ assistant, steals every scene she’s in. I thought she was a hoot. Richard, did the soundtrack bother you? Such obvious choices, like “New York, New York” when the husband enters the city, or the Mission: Impossible theme when the three women tail the husband to find out what he’s up to.
RC: Absolutely. The soundtrack is as subtle as Coster-Waldau’s cheesy pick up lines. Five minutes in I was willing to bet “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun would play… and I would have won that bet.
MB: And I bet the women will cheer and the men will groan at this flick.
I don’t need a calendar to tell me when January has arrived. I have a special sense that has nothing to do with the weather or the Christmas trees left on the curb. I can tell by the movies that get released. It’s the dog days of the movie biz, a time when movie studios empty out their closets and quietly release oddball movies.
Some are so bad that they don’t actually get released… they escape, while most fall into the ho-hum category and would make better rentals than theatrical releases. Such a movie is Alpha Dog that features pop star Justin Timberlake as a tough guy who lives with his father.
Directed by Nick Cassavetes, who romanced audiences with The Notebook a couple of years ago, Alpha Dog is based on the true story of a young thug with the unlikely name of Jesse James Hollywood. Hollywood and cohorts—all renamed for the movie—impulsively kidnap the brother of a psychopathic drug runner who owes them money. Without a firm plan the kidnapping doesn’t go as planned and panic sets in.
It’s an odd little movie. One that seems to on one hand condemn the thug lifestyle portrayed by these suburban wannabes while at the same time exploiting it by throwing in many scenes of violence and nudity. Like the great cheesy exploitation flicks of the 50s and 60s Alpha Dog tries to portray a certain kind of morality, while offering up plenty of examples of how NOT to behave. It makes for kind of a schizophrenic viewing experience.
Also odd is Cassavetes’s decision to frame the movie as a documentary. It starts with an interview with the main character’s drug dealer father (well played by Bruce Willis), and unnecessarily flits back and forth between the story and the documentary elements. The story stands on its own and doesn’t need these intrusions that don’t really accomplish much except to take the viewer out of the story.
But no one is going to see this movie for its morality or style choices. The audience for this movie, and the reason, I suspect that it didn’t go straight to video is Justin Timberlake. His big screen debut, Edison, only earned a limited release in Europe and a half-hearted DVD release in the rest of the world, but that was before his last album went stratospheric and his relationship with Cameron Diaz became hot gossip. I’d bet Universal is banking on his audience to put bums in seats for this movie.
Timberlake acquits himself well enough in the movie, although as I watched I couldn’t help but wonder why he seems to be drawn to roles that seem so inappropriate for him. In Edison he played a tough guy reporter, here he plays a suburban wannabe gangster who has probably watched Scarface one too many times. He’s a charismatic performer, so he gets by in both these films relatively unscathed, but next time I’d like to see him play toward his strengths and perhaps do a romantic comedy or at least something with a lighter touch.