In the Dark with Melanie Dishman: 'the Other Woman'
Three chicks and the same guy in this sort of rom-com about a serial womanizer knocked “Captain America” out of the top spot in its opening weekend. This predictable film was penned by first-time screenwriter Melissa K. Stack. I wish she had shown a little bit more respect for her gender by giving her female characters more to do than blubber and knock back tequila shots, but she opted to appeal to the lowest common entertainment factor — this is really just an updated re-tread of movies like “First Wives Club” with hipper furniture and better paying jobs.
To that end, Cameron Diaz, who plays Carly, the first to discover her boyfriend is married, is a high powered attorney (insert giggle here) in a New York law firm. No matter that her idea of dressing for success includes four inch heels and mini skirts, she knows the law, dammit. As if to reinforce this, Carly’s law degree from Columbia University figures prominently in every scene that takes place in her office.
The movie opens just as Carly meets Mark (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau of “Game of Thrones” fame). He’s a hotty, and there is an instant attraction, but he’s also married as Carly finds out when she tries to surprise him at home only to meet his wife, Kate (Leslie Mann) in a humiliating moment. From that point this devolves into a buddy picture with Kate intent on bonding with Carly over her husband’s bad behavior.
When the two discover there is a third much younger woman in Mark’s life named Amber (model Kate Upton), they make the move to get her involved in a revenge plot that plays out in a series of silly maneuvers like lacing his protein shake with female hormones. Wow, look at Mark grow breasts!
Stack’s script suffers from the same banalities that weaken most romantic comedies. There is the ubiquitous scene played out over some unmemorable sappy song that’s meant to evoke emotion where the dialog fails. If this were a Nancy Meyers movie, it would have to be a Motown hit using hairbrushes as microphones. Here, it’s a reflective moment that happens as the three scorned women pop down to the Bahamas to catch Mark, yet again, doing bad-boy things. They end up on the beach gazing out at the sunrise as they link arms in some attempt at ersatz comradery.
Nick Cassavetes, the director, is better known for dramas, and here seems to lack that important sense of timing that separates the good rom-coms from the indifferent. This is really evident in the last few minutes where Mark is confronted about his crimes — of the heart and otherwise. He pitches a hissy fit, pounding tables, walking into glass walls and otherwise acting like a 2-year old. And it goes on and on and on.
Filling out the cast is Taylor Kinney as Phil, Kate’s younger brother, and Don Johnson as Carly’s worldly, much-married father. And in a bit of even trippier casting, pop singer/rap Nicki Minaj plays her know-it-all secretary. For Diaz, this is just another day at the office. She’s the same somewhat snarky, smarty-pants she played in “Bad Teacher,” only without the potty mouth.
The most enjoyable in the cast is Mann, who has honed her skills in husband Judd Apatow’s comedies. As Kate, she’s whiny, insecure and endearing in her attempts to make Carly her bestie, even enduring such physical comedy as having a Great Dane repeatedly lick her face. Mann has perfected the ditzy dame, and at one point her character describes herself as “needing brain camp.”
The character of Mark is such an unrepentant cad that the movie’s title should be plural. Women do dominate the screen time in this, but for all the wrong reasons.